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! No, they won't all be this long, I promise.
I adore Derek Roy. Derek Roy drives me crazy. Sometimes his play makes me want to stand up on my coffee table and cheer. Sometimes his play makes me want to throw things at my TV. I want to hug him and tell him how awesome he is. I also want to punch him in the head. My relationship with Derek is very confusing.
The diving doesn't bother me as much as it does some people, partly because I think he's gotten a little better about it, perhaps realizing last season that he had to get pretty much mauled on the ice to draw a penalty because of his wretched reputation. Some of his other dramatics bother me very little. In one of the first games of the season, Derek tried desperately to get something - anything - to bleed after taking a stick to the face. Some fans came down on him pretty hard for that but hey, if you can turn two minutes into four, why wouldn't you? In fact, I fully endorse hockey players pulling a pro wrestling move and stashing razor blades somewhere in their equipment and then quickly and secretly whipping them out after getting hit. But the whining, good lord, the whining! Sometimes it seems like his mouth never stops moving. He's a big fat crybaby. Is he right about some calls? Sure. But no ref has ever changed his mind due to a convincing argument from a player. State your case and then move on. And for crying out loud, if play is still going on, keep playing! You're no help to your team over there by the ref while they're, you know, PLAYING HOCKEY.
Derek diving: BAD DEREK
Derek diving to make a play: GOOD DEREK
But! BUT! I love watching Derek Roy play hockey. He's fiery and emotional. He doesn't hesitate to mix it up with guys much larger than him. Last season he took a run at Zdeno Chara and even though Chara put him on the ice with one shove to the head (for a brief second it was like a cartoon - Chara, one hand on Derek's forehead, Derek swinging and yelling, "Let me at 'im, let me at 'im!") I have no doubt Derek would do exactly the same thing if given the chance again. He's chippy and mouthy and I adore watching three guys on the opposing team chase him around the ice. When he's playing well, he has the ability to take over a game. He can handle a puck and he can finish off a goal. He can play in a variety of situations - he's an awesome penalty killer - and he can play responsibly in the defensive end though that seems to come and go. (The "go" times would be when I want to punch him in the head and there have been way too many of those times lately.) There are games when he's so bad he's like another player. He turns the puck over like crazy, he tries to do everything himself, he gets visibly frustrated and that's usually when he starts falling over the ice and complaining about everything. Everyone not named "Ryan Miller" was bad in the playoffs but Derek was brutal - bench-able bad, I thought. But... When he's on, he's on. I have no doubt he's capable of centering a top line and I don't think he got nearly enough credit for the success of the RAV line last season.
Getting under the ref's skin: BAD DEREK
Getting under the opponent's skin: GOOD DEREK
Here's the thing that really surprises me about Derek Roy though: No matter how badly he's playing, I'm really, really defensive about him. Want to call Thomas Vanek lazy? Hey, knock yourself out. Want to complain about Max Afinogenov refusing to pass the puck? I'm right there with you. Want to insult Derek Roy? I will argue and if that doesn't work, I will cut you. When I went to see the Sabres with Kate, Pookie, and Schnookie, Derek was terrible and I was sitting in my seat thinking, "Geez, Derek is terrible!" But as soon as Pookie said it out loud, it got my back up and I started insisting that no, he's a really good hockey player. He totally is! Really! When people complained about him during the playoffs it bothered me even though I knew he was playing like garbage and was telling Mark he needed to be benched. When people complained about Derek's contract it bothered me and I argued with everyone who brought it up, insisting that he'd be a bargain before his contract was over. (I still feel that way in case you're wondering.) I can say all the nasty things I want about Derek Roy but everybody else should just shut their yaps. I understand how someone could not like Derek Roy. But I don't understand how someone could not like Derek Roy. See? Confusing!
I think the reason Derek frustrates me so much is because he is a good hockey player, too good to be such a drama queen. He also has as much leadership capability - if not more - than any of the core Rochester group. I was super impressed with him during the preseason. He seemed focused and prepared. He wasn't too low after a poor game and he wasn't too high after a good game. He was, dare I say it, more mature. I'm still hoping that some of that maturity will start carrying over to the his on-ice play.
There was a five minute or so period in the first game Mark and I attended this year that perfectly encapsulated my feelings for Derek Roy. The Sabres had the puck in the offensive zone and somehow the Thrashers got possession and headed to the opposite end of the ice. Derek, obviously looking for a call, was lagging behind the play instead of helping out on defense, looking at the ref with his arms raised. I sat in my seat screaming, "Derek, shut up and skate!" and saying to Mark, "He's killing me. He's absolutely killing me." A few minutes later we were standing in line for ice-cream watching replays of the beautiful goal Derek scored in the waning seconds of the period and I'm saying, "Look at that! He was actually being pulled to the ice and he still managed to get the puck into the net. I love him so much."
So Derek, if you're reading this, I say it mostly with great love and affection: Grow up. I know there's a great hockey player in there, too great to get bogged down in all that other garbage. I will defend you to the death but that doesn't mean I enjoy doing it.
Derek Roy: I love that little bastard.