Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lindy Ruff 4-Eva

I think most fans have atleast one blind spot. One issue or person that they will never ever see in any way but their way. A lot of fans are like this about their favorite player. If they like a guy enough, he could be playing like garbage but they'll never, ever admit it. I don't think I'm like that about Henrik Tallinder. I do kind of ignore it when he's not playing well - rarely will I actually say here, "Boy, Hank looks terrible!" - but I am seeing it and when other people point it out I don't get irrationally defensive. I'll admit, "Yeah, he and Toni need to be better," and then just kind of shrug and add, "They'll get it together."

I'm beginning to realize that I am pretty irrational about one person however and that person is Lindy Ruff. I've written about my affection for Lindy before and I don't think I'm alone here. In most cities, if the team was struggling as badly as the Sabres are struggling right now, the coach would be on the hot seat. Fans would be running him out of town. Granted, I am shielding myself from the more uh, zealous fans on sports radio and message boards, but there doesn't seem to be any kind of "FIRE LINDY!" uprising forming, atleast not yet. I hope it stays that way.

Here's the thing: I understand if people are critical of Lindy. I've been more perplexed by him this year than any other year in the past. I've spent most of my days on IR hanging out over at Interchangeable Parts and Pookie has suggested more than once that it's time for Lindy to move on, if for no other reason than just to shake things up. And my brain gets it. My brain understands that yeah, maybe a new face coming in and saying, "I don't know you and I don't care about whatever garbage is going on here, this is how it's gonna be" would wake the team up. (Though my brain also gets that the Interchangeable Parts girls are Devils fans and therefore barely have coaches long enough to remember their names much less fall in love with them :P)

But at the mere mention of Lindy going somewhere else - especially if it comes about because of a firing! - my heart freaks out and my fingers start typing every defense I can think of, some that make sense, some that don't. Lindy can't make the goal scorers score goals. He can't make the defense more consistent and he can't make the goalies steal games. He can't take players who aren't physical by nature and turn them into grinders. He can't make spoiled professional athletes work hard and play like they want to win. Any lack of effort is on the players. I don't care if teams usually fire coaches because it's easier than firing the players. In fact, I've now stated in more than one place that if it's between firing Lindy and firing the team, I'd gladly say a fond farewell to every guy on the roster. And while that's the kind of hyperbolic statement someone would usually make just to get a point across, I think I might actually mean it. Take that albatross of a contract somewhere else, Thomas. Go get your 6 million in another city, Brian. Let someone else worry about your groins, Timmy and Max. Goose and Mairsy, I hope you find somewhere soft to land. Jochen, it's been a blast. Hank... Hank, I think I'll miss you most of all. But seriously, I don't care if Rob Ray and James Patrick have to come out of retirement so that we can field a full team - heck, let Lindy play - just do whatever needs to be done to keep Lindy Ruff in Buffalo until I die.

So I just wanted to give you all fair warning that if it comes to a point where people really do start talking about firing Lindy I'm going to squeeze my eyes shut and wish the whole conversation away. I won't defend him because my arguments will be irrational and desperate but I won't take part either and I'll never, ever, ever agree as long as there's still breath left in my body.

Okay, now to go totally off-topic...

I had a week or so of zen, but I really need to get this cast off and I need to do it ASAP. If I had a saw, I'd just do it myself. I'm enjoying the sitting around and reading and watching DVDs etc, I would just like to be able to carry a plate of food from the kitchen to another room. Is that asking so much?

Books I've read since being disabled: Rayzor's Edge: Rob Ray's Tough Life on the Ice (pretty good), Searching for Bobby Orr (excellent), Breaking the Ice: My Journey to Olympic Hockey, the Ivy League, and Beyond (okay), The Parting (good), and On Chesil Beach (overrated :::clap, clap, clapclapclap)
Currently reading: Home to Holly Springs and Brodeur: Beyond the Crease

DVDs I've watched since being disabled: Once (awesome - the best movie I've seen from last year and one of the best movies I've seen in the past few years), Knocked Up (pretty good but not great), Superbad (totally overrated but not really my thing), Stardust (liked it more than I expected to), Veronica Mars: Season One (very good), 3:10 to Yuma (very, very good), and Waitress (sweet and funny and geez, why hasn't Hollywood made a star out of Nathan Fillion - weak-chinned or not - yet?)
Currently watching: 30 Rock: Season One with Battlestar Galactica on deck

Heather B's favorite Oscar nominee: Falling Slowly for Best Original Song


Stephanie said...

Entirely in agreement with you here about Lindy, and love the way that you articulate it!

PS -- Have you seen the piece on Sabres.com about Roy-Z showing us "his crib"? Check it out for a good laugh - I'd love to hear your take on it! :)

Sam said...

Brodeur's book is EXCELLENT! And I really liked Breaking the Ice... too.

Other hockey books I'd recommend:

Yzerman: Making of a Champion,
A great look at Stevey and how he helped transform the Wings from basement dwellers to Champions. Even if you're not a Red Wings fan, I think you'd like it.

Blades of Glory (no, not like the movie), The story of a Minnesota HS Hockey team and some of the hype that Minn HS hockey has. It's a pretty crazy story and another great read.

Ice Time, Follows a Boston HS hockey team for a season. There are also some very poignant thoughts about hockey in general.

They Don't Play Hockey In Heaven, Follow the (former WCHL, now ECHL's) Bakersfield Condors for a season through the eyes of a 3rd string goalie.

Zamboni Rodeo This one might be my favorite. It's the chronicle of the Austin Ice Bats (CHL) and their players for a season. I adore minor league hockey. In fact, when I get fed up with the NHL and its overpaid and underachieving players, I turn back to the minors and take solace that somewhere, sometimes there are guys out there who lay it on the line each night and don't care about the (not much) money they're making.
/steps off soapbox. ;)

Anyway I hope you enjoy the book recommendations. I loooove reading about hockey more than anything else, and that's saying quite a bit because I very much enjoy reading.

Also, as far as watching movies/tv go, have you ever heard of "Making the Cut"? It was a "reality" show on CBC a few years back where real hockey players (Jr. and Minor Leaguers) spent basically a 2-week training camp elimination trying to see who could qualify for 6 spots- one per Canadian NHL team. The winners each got a chance to tryout with the NHL team. It was such a cool show. I watched it when it was on (and actually knew one guy from when he played in Dayton) and I own it on dvd. Don't know if you can find it, but if you can, it's worth watching. (and may take your mind of the strugglin-ness of the Sabres, but still be hockey)

If you can't get your hands on it, send me an e-mail, (samthefunandcool@gmail.com) and I'll see what I can do. I have most of the episodes on VHS too, and I wouldn't mind sending them your way. ;)

Meg said...

I'm in total agreement with you about Lindy (in case you didn't know). He's been head coach since before I was a hockey fan and I have absolutely no desire to see someone else coaching the Sabres.

That's quite the list of things you've read and watched recently . . . I'm totally jealous. But not of the cast. I want the free time without the cast. Battlestar Galactica is next on my list of things to rent once I get through with the first season of Friday Night Lights.

amy said...

Have you read "The Boys of Winter" about the 1980 US Olympic hockey team? I definitely recommend it if you haven't.

Tessa said...

I completely agree about Lindy. I'm just as irrational about it, but I love that we've had the coaching stability for the last decade rather than the knee-jerk firings, and I hope Lindy has a job here as long as he wants it.

Have you read "The Boys of Winter" about the 1980 US Olympic hockey team? I definitely recommend it if you haven't.

I read that too - very good. Well written and really interesting.

And if you haven't read "The Game" by Ken Dryden, that's a must-read as well.

Sam said...

Boys of Winter is great, I agree completely. There is also One Goal: A Chronicle of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team and Striking Silver: The Untold Story of America's Forgotten Hockey Team abouty the 1972 team. Another quality read.

and one more: In the Bin: Reckless & Rude Stories from the Penalty Boxes of the Nhl Very amusing read, he's got great stories about players.

Okay enough hockey book babble for now. :)

Pookie said...

Great post, as usual, Heather. I want you to know that I understand completely what you're talking about. I understand completely why you love Lindy, I really do. Schnookie reminded me yesterday that if the situation were reversed I'd respond just the way you are! We're not going to agree, and we shouldn't, but I did want you to know that I get it, and I do sympathize.

One thing, though:

Though my brain also gets that the Interchangeable Parts girls are Devils fans and therefore barely have coaches long enough to remember their names much less fall in love with them

See, here's where I say -- this is proof that I know what I'm talking about! I've seen coaching changes work! I've seen first hand why it makes sense to get rid of the coach instead of the players! I'm arguing from a point of strength here! :)

And, just as an aside, I was completely over the moon for Larry Robinson in 2003. And I still love Pat Burns more than most Devils. I know that's not the same as how you feel about Lindy, but I don't want you to think I'm totally heartless about the coaches. :)

Pookie said...

Oops, I meant I was over the moon for Larry in 2000, not 2003. When he stepped in for Ftorek, who I still have a soft spot for because of all the work he's done with our young guys. I stopped loving Larry in 2001 when he let the team get complacent and lose a SCF in 7 games. That's fair of me, I think.

It's also only fair to point out that Pat Burns wasn't fired and he didn't quit. He left for health reasons. I think the Devils coaching situation would be a lot different if he hadn't gotten ill.

coolman856 said...

I think that Lindy will get a pass for this craptastic season but he does now have a track record of not being able to motivate his troops well enough, both this season and last season. But I do agree, I wouldn't want to see him leave at all.

Heather B. said...

Stephanie, I have watched the Roy-Z Cribs episode. Repeatedly. Let me watch it again, and I'll have some comments on it (although I don't promise anything too insightful).

Sam, I've read Ice Time but none of the others. I have a few on my "To Read" list and I'll definitely check out the others. I have heard of Making the Cut but I didn't think of seeing if it was available. If I can't find it, I'll let you know though. Thanks for the offer!

Meg, I firmly believe that the first season of Friday Night Lights is one of the best seasons of TV ever. I'm a little disappointed in the current season, but it's still way better than most of the stuff on TV. I absolutely adore Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton together.

Amy, I did read The Boys of Winter. Good stuff!

Tessa, I'll be honest, I didn't really like The Game that much. I am planning on re-reading it though because I hadn't been watching hockey very long at all when I read it and there was a lot of stuff (people, history, politics) that I didn't really get.

I know Darcy has always said that Lindy has a job as long as he's in Buffalo so we'll see!

Pookie, I'm just messing with you :-) I know you're coming at it from a different perspective and I do appreciate that. Meg mentioned this above but Lindy is the ONLY head coach the Sabres have had since I've been watching the team. The only one. I can't even picture someone else behind the bench. So there's definitely a lot of sentiment wrapped up in the whole situation for me. I would never suggest you were incapable of loving a coach since you and Schnookie are the only other fans I know who are active fans of your GM :-)

Sam said...

I thought of one more. (spam, much? LOL) I just love hockey books.

Putting a Roof on Winter which is basically a history of organized hockey. It's a great book and full of fantastic background stories about the game we love. Big on characters of the players, owners, etc, and not too big on the stats. It reads like a story rather than a textbook. Truly a wonderful read.

Okay I really am done with the book recommendations now. I promise! I own many of those books too, so if you can't find 'em at the library, I'd be happy to lend them to you. The only ones I don't have in that list are In the Bin... and the Olympic ones. I've also got some short fictional stories about hockey, 2 books of short true stories about the NHL and hockey in general and one that's a funny collection of hockey stats, quotes and anecdotes.

Patty (in Dallas) said...

3:10 to Yuma (very, very good)

This is really only interesting to me, but this movie title always reminds me of my early Blockbuster days, when it was the first movie in the Westerns section. :D

Heather B. said...

Patty, I totally remember that from my Blockbuster days too! Weird. I also remember that 12 Angry Men was at the beginning of the drama section.

Patty (in Dallas) said...

That is weird! Was 13 Ghosts the first one in Horror?

Heather B. said...

Patty, ha! Yes, I think it was. I can't think of anything that would've been ahead of it.

I primarily remember 12 Angry Men from all the conversations I had with high-school students looking for the TV movie that involved me trying to convince them that the Henry Fonda version was way better, saying things like, "The black and white won't hurt you. Do not fear the black and white."

amanda said...

Heather B and Sam, I think you guys are my long-lost sisters. I am reading "Jonesy" right now and just finished "King of Russia". Jonesy is tremendously entertaining, and King of Russia was, um, insightful. Remind me to bring anything I could EVER possibly need to Russia with me should I decide to go. Yeesh.

I have several other hockey books, and would love to lend back and forth with anyone who wants the ones I have. E-mail me at manda903@rocketmail.com if you want a list of mine.

The hubby is becoming perturbed about the $ I spend on hockey-related books (silly man) so if I can borrow some of the ones I haven't read that would be lovely.

Oh, and BSG rules. Yay!

Sam said...

I love 12 Angry Men! We read the play and watched the movie in 8th grade, then when I was in high school, our drama club did the play. I was juror #11. (I think 7 of us were actually women LOL but we faked it with facial hair and hats and everything. It was very fun!

Amanda, I'll send you an e-mail :)

Anonymous said...

Lots of hockey book reviews at: