Sunday, January 10, 2010

Falling In Love

Let me be very clear on this: I was wrong about Tyler Myers.  Most of you probably remember that back in the preseason I was one of maybe five people in the world who thought Myers should stay in juniors.  I questioned whether he had the physical, mental, or emotional maturity to make it through an NHL season.  I didn't think he was going to be enough of a difference maker on this year's team to justify starting the clock to free agency.  I thought the Sabres would be wise to take extra time and care with him.

I was wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong. 

I'm still a little concerned about Myers making it through the regular season much less the playoffs without running down especially since he's playing so much time every night.  That's a lot of hockey to hang on a still undeveloped body.  But everything else?  No worries. 

One of my favorite things about him is how, as mature and calm as he is on the ice, there are moments when he's still clearly a kid.  I love that he had a huge grin on his face after his second goal against Toronto.  I love that in his postgame interview he stood there, hair standing on edge, smiled sheepishly and admitted he was really going hard for the hat trick.  A lot of young hockey players don't seem to be very young.  I'm sure for some it's just personality coming into play, but I think part of it is that hockey becomes a job for a lot of these boys so young.  They leave home when they're babies and hockey is their world.  While that maturity comes in handy when it comes to playing, as a fan I somtimes find it disconcerting how polished and professional they are at 19, 20, 21.  So I like that Tyler Myers is sometimes just a big gawky 19-year-old who's having the time of his life.  He's having an impressive season and he's clearly going to be something special, but I'm really happy about the fact that I just like him so much.
This picture makes me happy.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

I'm obviously not the only one feeling that way.  One of my favorite things to do when we go to games is check out everyone's jerseys.  I said to Mark at dinner, "I just saw a Jochen jersey!" because that's one I don't see very often.  Anyone who's ever been to a game can name the most popular jerseys: Miller and Vanek with some Pominvilles, Roys, and a growing number of Gaustads mixed in.  But tonight I saw an awful lot of 57s wandering around HSBC.  An awful lot.  And they were on everyone, men and women, boys and girls.  And that affection carried over into the game.  The crowd was already jacked up by the third period comeback and the neverending shootout, but when everyone realized Myers was stepping over the boards as the next shooter, the place hit a whole new level.  We went bonkers.  We wanted to win the game, of course, but we really wanted Myers to be the hero.  It was the sound of a city falling in love with a player and a moment I think I'll remember for a long time.
I really want Myers to win the Calder.  I've spent the last couple of days running all over the internet, promising to burn a building somewhere to the ground if he doesn't.  I want the d-man to beat the forwards, I want the project to beat the sure things, I want Buffalo to beat the larger markets.  But mostly I want Myers to do what he's doing right now in a Sabres jersey for a very long time.


Anonymous said...

How can you not like his play? And he's young enough to realize it's a game. Can you imagine if he got his hat trick? the roof would have come off the arena.

george said...

I used to do a JP Court rotation out in Katy when he would've been like five. Who'd have thunk a kid from Houston would wind up a key cog on the Sabres. Small world.

Mark B said...

I can't even find the right words any more to brag about this guy. He's so amazing and does make me very, very happy too!

Steve said...

I felt the same way, I thought for sure he would get destroyed at the NHL level and wouldn't even make it through his 10 game tryout. Now he's probably my favorite player (besides Miller)!

Vanek's Hair said...

I was with you on Myers in the pre-season. I think he has been tremendous this season. He has made some ugly turnovers, but that is not a big deal to me. Those are correctable mistakes. I really think he is becoming a star right before our eyes. It will be fun watching him mature as a player over the next several years.

I still have concerns about him later in the season and in the playoffs. Regardless of how he has been to this stage, a 19 year old body is not yet ready for the grind of an 82 game season, plus playoffs. The Olympic break should help him. I wouldn't mind seeing him get a few games off down the stretch to keep him fresh. Not a perfect solution, but my biggest concern is that, and it really is just for this season.

Anonymous said...

Myers played 58 games in Juniors last year, 6 at the World Champs where he won a gold medal, 22 in the WHL playoffs, where he was named MVP, and 3 more at the more Memorial Cup. That's 89 games, not including exhibtion.

I think he's more than capable of grinding it out for a long playoff run.

Heather B. said...

Anonymous, I think playing against other players in his age/development bracket is very, very different from playing against NHLers (almost all of whom are older and much more filled out/developed). But I hope you're right!

Anonymous said...

Just love the big kid and his enthusiasm for the game. He reminds me so much of that other young dude many years back, Jim Schoenfeld. Sure he'll make mistakes but he's gonna be a terrific player in the years to come!