Monday, October 5, 2009

Have I Ever Mentioned That I'm a Tallinder Fan?

I love Henrik Tallinder. I know, that's not a newsflash, right? He's a combination of all the things I love in a professional athlete. (Minus the sex scandal perhaps.) He's talented (when playing well), he's appealing to watch (beautiful skater), he comes across as very pleasant and likable in interviews, he plays an underrated style and position.

Despite that unabashed affection, however, I feel like I've always been able to step outside myself and look at Hank at least somewhat rationally. I understand why a lot of fans are down on him. I understand why the Sabres allegedly looked at trading him in the offseason and then again at the draft. I would understand if they traded him before the season is over, and if they don't, I'll understand when they don't re-sign him. I get it. He has definitely not turned into the defenseman we all thought he would be. I do think Hank has turned into a little bit of a whipping boy for everything that ails us, but I get it.

Which is why I was so confused after Saturday's game. I've said before that I really want Hank to have a good season, and after the Montreal game, I was pretty happy with his play. Certainly he wasn't the best Buffalo defenseman on the ice, but he wasn't the worst either. (For the record, I thought Andrej Sekera was.) He didn't have any major blow-ups, he wasn't on the ice for either of Montreal's goals (such as they were), and he showed pretty good chemistry with Tyler Myers. I don't need him to play with Toni Lydman all the time, but I think there's a pretty good reason they almost always end up together. In the past they've both struggled to find any chemistry with anyone else, at least quickly. Heck, Hank was even jumping in offensively and he had a shot on goal. So yeah, I was feeling happy.

And then I started reading comments on other blogs and message boards. Now I usually try not to read too much until after I've done any blogging I'm planning on doing, just so my opinion doesn't get too muddied, but it was the first game, I was excited to hear what everyone was talking about, I ended up reading places I haven't even gone in a couple of years. Almost every place I wandered to, Hank was getting hammered. Not lightly criticized, HAMMERED. Destroyed. Decimiated. Better off dead type comments.

I have no idea what to make of this. I don't know if my Hank goggles need adjusted or if everyone else's does. I don't know if my fandom is making me see less than everyone else or if Hank has been so firmly established in Can't Do Anything Right Ever territory for so many people that they're seeing more than is there. I don't know. Maybe the truth lies somewhere in the middle?

I don't know what my point is other than this. I'm not sure I'm going to believe anything you tell me about Hank's play this season. It's too much. Whipping boy. But I guess maybe you shouldn't believe anything I say about him etiher. If you ever did. Heh.


Pookey said...

I thought he did pretty good, too. And like you said, he didn't blow anything. He was very, very angry at some of the Habs...very un-Hank like. would be interesting to see him in a fight.

TheSharpie said...

I didn't think Hank looked bad on Saturday night from my view in the 300s and on the post-game show neither did the WGR boys.

Steve said...

I've been saying all preseason that Hank looks good and he's going to have a good year, and all I get in response is people saying he still looks terrible. People seem to set the bar really high for him and I'm not sure why, I don't remember him ever being a great player. He was good, then he was not good, now he's good again! I don't know what people want.

Mark B said...

I thought he played his best game in a long while, so I didn't get all the hate either.

I guess he has replaced Max, who replaced Kalinin, as the whipping boy. Too bad.

joe said...

here's the problem with your boy hank. Scouting defenseman in hockey is tough for a casual viewer.

You will notice a defenseman if he hits someone or he's got a good shot. That's why people loved campbell because he did both well. Even though he was a turnover machine at times...Hank doesn't really do either of those things. Not to mention in most fans eyes he's a lost cause because he was suppose to be the next good defenseman for the team and he wasn't that guy...

Shelby Rose said...

I don't think Hank looked out of place at all. I think bitter Sabres fans are just looking for someone to blame for and like you said, he's the whipping boy.

Of course, I think a lot of bitter Sabres fans I come across aren't the brightest crayons in the box. Half of them don't even know what they're talking about.

Lee Andrew said...

You like Tallinder? I had no idea! First I learn about this Van Slyke dude and now Tallinder.

Heather B. said...

Hmmmm... I know I just said I wasn't going to listen to other people's opinions on Hank anymore but I'm pretty sure you're all right. Hank was AMAZING! :P

(Those of you who read this and thought Hank was awful, I do thank you for not leaving any brutal comments. It's nice to be entertained.)

Steve, I think that Hank, like Kalinin before him, is a victim of expectations. Which I understand to a degree. But you gotta let the guy make some baby steps back in the right direction, I think.