Since I've spent the past few days closing my eyes and reminding myself, "I do love hockey! I do love hockey!" I figured it was time for the next Why I Love Hockey. But before I get to that, a few random thoughts.
First of all, a quick non-hockey note. Cry me a river, Roger Clemens. I'm not going to say you're a steroid user though I wasn't particularly impressed by your Mike Wallace interview, but have you been paying attention for the last few years? Fans have been throwing needles at Barry Bonds and people have been talking about putting asterisks on every record he owns. During that time, any mention of you in conjunction with steroids was shot down pretty quickly. That? Was you getting the benefit of the doubt.
Second of all, if you haven't read the comment thread on the previous post, you really should do so (if I do say so myself). I think there's some interesting stuff there, some varying opinions, and hey, everything managed to stay all polite and civil! Don't you guys know that's not what the internet is for? Thanks to everyone who participated. In addition to making for some interesting reading, it killed off an entire day for me.
One of the topics that came up on the outskirts of the conversation was Lindy Ruff and I've been thinking about Lindy a lot over the past couple of weeks. I kind of hate the idea of changing a coach just to make a change when the only people that can be blamed for piss-poor effort are the ones on the ice, but I do get that not every coach is a good fit for every team and it's much easier to fire a coach than a bunch of players. I will also state for the record that I'm in no way endorsing firing Lindy - I adore him and quite frankly I might prefer firing all the players - but I am a little bit surprised that he isn't getting more out of the team since in the past he's always seemed to be very good with young players and shown the ability to get hard work out of players. I'd be curious to know how he's handling the team behind closed doors. Calm and encouraging? Screaming and flipping furniture? A little of both?
As much as I love Lindy, my mind does wander back to the beginning of the season and his first comments on this year's team which were not very positive. I really think that was a mistake. Even if that was how he felt, the players who were still here didn't need to hear that, especially since he'd been silent on all the off-season stuff until then. Even if he didn't believe it yet, they needed to hear, "Screw those guys and screw you for considering the season lost before it's even started. We still have plenty of talent here and we'll be fine." He seemed to come around within a few weeks and again, I'd like to think professional athletes would be capable of playing for themselves no matter what anyone else says, but I do find myself wondering if maybe Lindy's losing or lost the room. I hope not. Just something I've been thinking about.
Okay, moving on!
Why I Love Hockey #34 - Ringing Family
When I fell in love with Mark, I was pretty lucky to fall in love with his family too. There are a lot of them (he's the baby of seven) and they are a friendly, funny, slightly crazy, loving bunch. One of my favorite things about them is the tradition of ringing each other during Sabres games.
We were sitting in Mark's apartment back in Birmingham the first time I experienced it. The phone rang once and then stopped. Mark jumped up off the couch and ran to the computer.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"I think the Sabres scored!" He pulled up the game recap on NHL.com or whatever site updated scores back then and pumped a fist. "Yes!"
"How'd you know that?"
"Because my mom just rang me. That's what we do."
And it is what they do. When the Sabres score, everybody calls everybody else, lets the phone ring once, and then hangs up. It's like a long-distance high five and to me, it's totally adorable. As Mark remembers it, one of his brothers spontaneously decided to ring one of the other boys every time the Sabres scored just to mess with him and it spiraled from there. It doesn't happen during Bills games even though we all watch them too. It's strictly a hockey thing. I turned the TV off on Sunday after the score of the Atlanta game was 3-1 and despite that, I knew when the Sabres scored their second goal because Mark rang me from his mom's house. (I did not know however that the Thrashers had scored a fourth goal so that took the wind right out of my sails and the TV went right back off.) The one ring is ingrained now and any time it happens - on TV, in a movie, at home but not during a game - one of us will say, "Sabres scored."
There have been a few people that have made me consider taking the tradition outside of the family. I've thought about ringing them to see if they figure out what's going on. But I don't know, I never have. I'll be honest, it's partly because of caller I.D. I don't know want any of my friends thinking I'm stalking or pranking them. But it's also because I enjoy the B. family having this kinda dumb but entertaining tradition. Hopefully in 50 years our kids and grandkids will be ringing me and Mark when the Sabres scores.