Wednesday, November 28, 2007

One of Us

In honor of NaBloPoMO, I'll be attempting to post something every day in November. If you're not checking in every day, make sure you're catching all the posts! Here's a quick one before I run off to the game...

I have some odds and ends I want to deal with, but I'm short on time. I do want to quickly respond to this quote from Greg Wyshynski at FanHouse however: Jay McKee makes his return to Buffalo with the Blues. Remember, kids: Jay McKee leaves Buffalo for a big free-agent contract = veteran getting his due. Briere and Drury leave Buffalo for big free-agent contracts = traitorous bastards.

I don't know that that's entirely fair. When Jay McKee first signed with St. Louis there were a lot of people in Buffalo who were pretty furious because he was chasing the money and signing with a non-contender, turning his back on the team that drafted and raised him. I heard more than a few comments along the lines of, "I hope you enjoy that money, Jay, since you just played in the last playoff game of your career." But you know, time goes by and sometimes fans cool off on guys. Jay was here for a long time and was an important part of some of the best teams of the past ten years. Many of us grew up with him and eventually people started to remember that. What separates him from Briere and Drury in my mind is that he was very embedded in Buffalo when he left - a decade is an eternity for a player to be in one city these days - and he's remained that way since. He married a Buffalo girl and they still live here in the off-season. Fans still see him around town and he's still the same funny, lovely guy he always was. I think some fans also softened toward him as it became clear that the Sabres weren't overly interested in keeping him around, not at a high price atleast. Fairly or not, fans seem to separate former players into one of two categories: He Was Never Really One of Us OR He'll Always Be One of Us. For a lot of Buffalo, Jay McKee will always be one of us. Time will tell what happens with Drury and Briere.

All I know is this. I loved Jay then, and despite some rocky feelings when he first split, I love him now. I insisted we buy tickets for tonight's game just to see him again. I've said fans should be free to greet former players however they choose, but I will throw ice cubes at anyone in my vicinity who boos when Jay has the puck. That's a promise.

Jay McKee, 1996

4 comments:

Meg said...

I really hope people don't boo him. That would just be too sad. And stupid. Very, very stupid.

Katebits said...

I'm glad you wrote this, Heather. I sort of bristled at that line when I read it on FanHouse. This is an eloquent explanation of the Buffalo mentality when it come to this kind of thing. Buffalo is a sensitive, often overly-emotional beast, but there is some rhyme to the reason.

Katebits said...

One the other hand, in the same post Greg W took a pretty good swing at Dany Heatley...which I seriously appreciate in light of Heatley naming Buffalo his least favorite NHL city.

amy said...

I think your comment about Jay being one of us really hit the nail on the head. The broadcast last night had a great sit-down interview with Jay, where he really stressed how much he loved this town. And he said that when his playing days are done, Buffalo's home. Its where his family is.

I think we can safely add him to the list of players that are one of us (Ray, Barnaby, even Lindy). I never had the same vibe from either Briere or Drury.