Thursday, January 7, 2010

Back to the Grind

Whew.  I think I've recovered from the holidays at last.  Before I move on to tonight's game, a brief programming note.  After years of dithering, I've decided to go back to school.  I'll spare you all the (not so) sordid details of my previous college experience, and just say I've never completed an undergraduate degree and think it's about time.  I've finally decided I'm tired of busting my ass as an aide and getting paid practically nothing so it's time to become a teacher... so I can bust my ass and get paid a little bit more than practically nothing.  I'd actually prefer to skip the undgrad degree altogether and jump straight to the masters in literacy since my end goal is to be a reading specialist, but as it turns out, no one's down with that plan.  So I'll take the long way, I guess.

All that to say, my schedule is about to get a lot busier so I'm not exactly sure how the blogging is going to go for the next few months while I readjust to an academic life, especially this semester when I'll be doing school and work full-time.  The fact of the matter is, I love, love, love this blog and being an active part of the Buffalo sports community so I'll probably find time.  Most of my classes this semester are internet courses so it's quite possible a large portion of my study time will consist of me flipping between a tab with my class lessons and a tab with Top Shelf (and a tab with Twitter, and a tab with Gmail, and tabs with other Sabres blogs...) so there might not even be a noticeable difference.  But in case there is, well, now you know what's going on.

I missed the seemingly very exciting first period, but based on what I did see, I can firmly say this was one of the most awful hockey games ever.  That was some ugly, crazy, sloppy hockey.  That said, wow, Mike Robitaille and Rob Ray need to settle down a bit.  Yes, it was a gross game, no, playing like that is definitely not going to work in the playoffs.  It was one game and really one of the few games the Sabres have played like that this season.  Let's be happy we won and move the heck on.

While watching tonight's game, I pulled out a lap desk that I hadn't used in a while.  I was using this desk a lot back when I first started really watching the Sabres closely, and I was tickled to realize I'd written a couple of notes to myself on it.  There were two or three guys whose numbers I just could not remember.  I knew their names, I knew their positions, but I just couldn't make them stick in my head enough to really recognize them when I was watching.  So I made a little cheat sheet.  Take a look:


In retrospect, I find this list pretty funny because if you put a gun to my head and made me pick my favorite three Sabres of the last few years it would probably be Jochen Hecht, Henrik Tallinder (duh), and Toni Lydman.  They haven't always been the best Sabres.  Heck, at times they've been the worst.  But for better or for worse, they're my boys.  For whatever reason, they've just burrowed into my heart.

I've been thinking about Jochen Hecht in particular a lot lately.  While I hated the way he played last season, I also hated the way fans were trashing him.  I thought people were very quick to forget how steady he'd been for pretty much his entire career in Buffalo.  He was one of the few players in 2007-2008 who looked like he cared at all about anything on the ice.  I also felt like the "Now he has his big contract" accusastions never fit him.  He had what was arguably his best year as a Sabre after he signed his extension.  If he was going to relax in the comfort of money, I think that would have been the time to do it.  So I don't know what happened last year.  I don't know if he just suddenly lost his confidence and found himself in a spiral he couldn't get out of.  I don't know if there was something going on outside of hockey that had him distracted.  I don't know.   But he was lost on the ice and distraught and sullen in interviews.  When he gave interviews at all.

I do know that he's one of those guys whom I feel for when he's struggling.  Some guys I just want to kick in the shin, some guys I mutter and curse at, but a few - like Hank, Jochen, and Toni - just make me sad.  My heart hurts watching them flail.  I want to hug them and tell them it'll be better soon.  The rejuvanation of Hank is my favorite story of the season, of course.  But the rejuvanation of Jochen is a very close second.  I missed seeing that little half smile last year.  It's good to see it again.

And just for your enjoyment, here's something else from my lap desk.  I have a feeling this was more of a mindless doodle.

I was evidently 12 at the time.  Also, I have Soupy cooties.


Caroline said...

I also hated the way fans were trashing him. I thought people were very quick to forget how steady he'd been for pretty much his entire career in Buffalo.

I was having this EXACT conversation with my brother on the way home from the game tonight.

Vanek's Hair said...

Good luck with the return to school. I hope you still find some time for Sabre commentary.

I didn't see a lot of tonight's game, but I think the aggravation that Robitaille and Ray can probably be best summed up by a text message I received from my brother: "Nice to see that despite big money contracts and professional ego, NHL guys aren't above an occasional game of shinny"

I trust my brother's judgment on these things. Also, I am with you on how Sabre fans were so quick to jump on Hecht this season. However, they leave Tim Kennedy alone, whose production is not anywhere near Hecht's. I guess Hecht should have been born in South Buffalo. (Disclaimer: I have nothing against Kennedy)

Over the past few seasons, I have found myself willing to and wanting to defend the local fan base' whipping boys. Hecht is one. I generally think he plays a good game and does things (CLICHE ALERT) that don't show up in the scorecard.

Pooki said...

Good luck with school, Heather! Some kids are going to be super lucky to get you as their reading specialist someday in the not-so-distant future!

Also, :^:::::::::::::::::::::::::
::::: *gasp* ::::::::::::::::::::
to that Soupy doodle! Next time we go to a game together in Buffalo, I'm going to get that blown up into sign form and I'm going to hold it up with a big arrow pointing to you. :PPPP (And then after the game I promise you can step on it.)

PookiEEEEEE said...

Oof, my itchy trigger fingers posted that before I could add an "e" to Pookie. D'oh!

Shelby Rose said...

Best of luck with your return to school! My brother is doing the same exact thing now and he is close to being a certified Social Studies teacher. :)

I really, really love how Henrik is written in cursive. It seems to mean a lot more with the fact that it is cursive, haha.

Heather B. said...

Shinny pretty much covers it, VH. They might as well have pulled the goalies for as much good as they were doing for most of the games.

I don't know what's up with wanting to defend the local whipping boys, but I have that issue too.

Next time we go to a game together in Buffalo, I'm going to get that blown up into sign form and I'm going to hold it up with a big arrow pointing to you.

Hmmm. I'm pretty sure you've been banned from Buffalo, Pooki. But :^:::::::::: to getting to step on the sign later. I might just tear it up into itty bitty pieces too!

I really, really love how Henrik is written in cursive.

Shelby that's actually a really good point. I never write in cursive. I must have been feeling especially girly and flirty that day. Hee.

Mark B said...

I think part of the reason Jochen gets more criticism than Kennedy is the difference in their contracts. 3.8 is a lot to pay when you're playing on a third line a lot of the time. But that's the Sabres' fault, not Jochen.

Kathleen said...

Heather! Hank is the latest "2 in the Box"! (Which apparently only appears once every 2 months.) We need to stop calling him Hank and start calling him "Pinetree" though.

Hearts around Soupy... I don't know what to say.

dani said...

haha that was wonderful! I made a cheat sheet for cousins with the numbers on them when we played Carolina in the playoffs. My cousin was in l-u-v with Roy so I had to teach her the other numbers too...

Good luck with school! Don't even be nervous either, I know a ton of people who go back and they always freak out but, don't be scared! We can be your blogger study buddies.