I read somewhere that dogs who are home alone for long periods like to have the TV or talk radio on. They're comforted by the sound of human voices. Mark turned on WGR for Marlowe before he left for work this morning so I happened to catch part of Sullivan's appearance on Howard Simon while I was getting ready. I'm admitting up front that I didn't hear his entire segment so it's possible I missed the build up to this but in the portion I did hear, here are some of the things Sullivan said, paraphrased because I'm too lazy to listen to the segment again: "Who's going to play defense next season?", "It's possible no one will pick them to win their division again," and "They might not even make the playoffs next season."
Really? Next season? We're already burying next season's team? That's ludicrous. You know why? BECAUSE NEXT YEAR'S TEAM DOESN'T EVEN EXIST YET! That's just pessimism for the sake of pessimism. Is it really that hard to try and be positive about something that hasn't even happened yet? Can't we save the complaining and criticism for stuff that's already happened (so we can all use our finely tuned hindsight)? Sullivan and Simon were discussing the parity in the Eastern Conference and how the postseason has shown that there's not a ton of difference between the top playoff teams and the bottom playoff teams, but why does that have to be a negative thing? I'll give Simon credit for addressing that. He made the suggestion that since everything is so equal, a couple of upgrades could make the Sabres one of the better teams in the conference but Sullivan couldn't deal with that suggestion. Why? BECAUSE EVERYTHING HAS TO BE BAD ALL THE TIME. EVEN IN THE FUTURE.
Bucky Gleason spent all of last season telling us that the Sabres were two years away from having what they felt would be their best team. That's still a year off. Isn't going from being a non-playoff team to being a division-winning playoff team improvement? Aren't they still, in fact, on track for being good next season? Why can't Bucky say that? It works with what he's been saying all along. What's so hard about saying "They're still on track and there's reason to be optimistic" instead of "This season was a disappointment." Or why can't it be a disappointment and progress? Things do work that way sometimes. Why the need for black and white?
I'm just, I don't know, I'm sick of it. I don't want puppies and rainbows all the time. If Sullivan had been saying he was worried about next year's team because he didn't quite believe the Sabres were going to make the needed changes well, that would be a valid criticism based on pass actions (or inaction) of Darcy Regier. I'm fine with valid criticism. I absolutely agree that there are changes that need to be made to the team, and I hope they get made. But the Sabres were just eliminated a week ago. No one's even won the Stanley Cup yet. I'm willing to give the Sabres brass, oh, a FEW DAYS OF THE OFF-SEASON before I decide next year's team isn't going to win the division or make the playoffs. And you know what, before the implosion at the end, which yes, is important, it was a good season. Here are ten good things about the Sabres 2009-2010 season:
1. Ryan Miller showed that he can be an elite goalie and for a few weeks, was the toast of the entire country.
2. Tyler Myers not only met but exceeded what were very high expectations.
3. Henrik Tallinder and Jochen Hecht returned to form and were both important, if lesser noticed, parts of the Sabres success.
4.The Sabres had one of the best penalty killing units in the league. Only a pulled goalie in the final game of the season kept them from being THE best.
5. Mike Grier surprised a lot of people who thought he was washed up by being a big contributer to the team on the ice and off.
6. Patrick Kaleta became a better hockey player.
7. The Sabres won the Northeast Division.
8. The Sabres made the playoffs.
9. Ryan Miller was nominated for the Vezina.
10. Tyler Myers was nominated for the Calder.
11. Tyler Ennis came up from Portland at the end of the season and was one of the best forwards on the ice. (Try this idea on for size, people complaining that Ennis should have been up in January: Maybe he was so good in April because the Sabres let him play top line minutes all season in Portland. Maybe he wouldn't have been ready in January. What about that, HINDSIGHTERS?)
I wrote that list without even thinking about it! And I actually came up with 11 things because I accidentally had two number 4s. It's not that hard to occasionally, just to switch things up, look on the bright side.
Going back to the first paragraph of this post - I know it seems like a very distant memory - I fell somewhere in the middle of the "Is Buffalo negative?" discussion. I think there's definitely a streak of negativity here. I think there is a fair share of Buffalonians who protect themselves from being disappointed by trying not to get their hopes up too high in the first place. But one thing I love about Buffalo, maybe the thing I love most about it, is that I think Buffalo wants to hope and dream and have the best. I do wonder sometimes if the suggestions that we're people who expect the worst, influence us more than we realize. Does the negativity become a self-fulfilling prophecy? That's who we're told we are so that's what we become?
I don't know. What I do know is that I think I'll find something else to leave Marlowe with than WGR. I mean, look at the poor thing. This is how I found her when I came home.
"I hate the Sabres AND myself. Kill me now."