Sabres Edge is suddenly being updated more regularly, there are real hockey stories in the newspaper, Sabres.com has new videos and interviews popping up all the time ... Hockey season is finally, FINALLY almost upon us! This time next week I'll have seen real Sabres in real uniforms practicing on real ice! Glory hallelujah!
- According to the linked story above, part of Lindy Ruff's plan for the season is to not suck so badly in the first couple of games. Great idea! Those of you who were around last season will remember that I whipped myself into a total frenzy defending the Sabres during the summer, insisting they were still a talented team, sending emails to every talking head in the business who dared to suggest otherwise. I can still feel the slow, sinking depression I felt watching Mike Comrie - I HATE THAT GUY - skating around the Sabres like pylons like it happened yesterday. I am fully behind the plan of winning the first two games. Or at least not playing like garbage. That'd be good. Then maybe I could say I was right, just a year ahead of schedule.
- One of the questions that keeps popping up is which defensemen are going to start with the big team. I think it pretty much has to be Henrik Tallinder, Toni Lydman, Craig Rivet, Jaroslav Spacek, Andrej Sekera and Teppo Numminen in the top six with Nathan Paetsch sliding in at number seven. I think Sekera earned his shot at the top six with his stellar play at the end of last season and will play there, for better or for worse, unless he really, really, really struggles. I think he's clearly a defensemen of the future whereas Paetsch spot is, for now, a little more up in the air. Sekera is not going to sit in the press box. Neither is Mike Weber who should start in Portland for the same reason. Both of those guys need to be playing every night wherever they are. I'd love to see Weber make the jump with Sekera but I can't really see any of the other guys getting bumped and it can't hurt for Weber to be the top dog in Portland for a while. Besides, I'm sure it's just a matter of time before someone gets hurt and Weber gets his shot. If he plays well in that situation then we have a debate on our hands.
- As of this writing, I'm going to 14 Sabres games this season. Fourteen! Pretty impressive for someone who was barely paying attention to hockey a handful of years ago. For all my squawking about how we should put ourselves on the season ticket list, I'm really not sure I could go to too many more games. I love being in the arena but I also love sitting on my couch at home and watching on TV. Easier to pace and hide in the other room during high moments of stress.
Now that I've got this whole home game thing under pretty good wraps, what I'd really like to do is start going to some away games. I've only seen the Sabres in one other place - Atlanta - but that was before I really liked hockey. I remember being impressed by the number of Sabres fans - that was right after the '99 Cup run - but I definitely didn't appreciate it the way I would now. The guy in the face paint who screamed "LET'S GO BUFF-A-LO! YEEEEEAAAAAAAH!" seemed a little scary at the time. Now I would have no choice but to return his call.
So here's the new plan. Starting this season, Top Shelf is going to start venturing out to other NHL venues. This season I think I'll tackle Toronto, Pittsburgh, and Boston. Now I just need someone to buy the tickets, provide car/air travel, and pay me for any time off from work. But otherwise, I think it's a great plan! (Okay, I drifted into sarcasm there but I really would love to do it. If by some crazy chance an opportunity presents itself, I'm so there.)
- Note to the Sabres: This whole Puck Drop thing sounds like it could be fun. So... maybe you get let us in on a few more details? Like... I don't know, who's going to be signing autographs, where, and for how long? Or maybe something really basic like what time practice starts? That would be helpful for planning my Saturday.
- My new commute to work takes me on the Skyway. As I was coming home today, just as HSBC Arena was coming into view on my right, this song - no lie! - started playing on my iPod. Hockey is coming! HOCKEY IS COMING!