There are practical reasons that Jochen works really well. He has two years left on his contract. While I think he's likely to be here for those two years, he's probably (look away, Gambler!) unlikely to be renewed after that. I'd be surprised if that happened at least. He's kind of the perfect middle-man. He takes me away from Hank and in three years, maybe one of the kids really will have caught my attention. And unlike the very impulsively bought Connolly jersey in the back of the closet, I will never ever regret owning a Hecht jersey. Also in Jochen's favor is the very silly fact that I love the way 55 looks on the back of a jersey. To my eye, certain numbers look good and certain numbers look odd. 55 looks good.
But really the bottom line is that I love Jochen Hecht. I like his game, I appreciate his style of play - steady, reliable, and often unnoticed - but I love him. I've written many times before about how there are certain players who just kind of get under your skin in a good way. You feel really happy for them when they're playing well and genuinely bummed for them when they're struggling. In 2007-2008 when most of the team phoned it in, I was so proud of Jochen for playing like he actually cared (and I have documented proof of those feelings). When he seemed to be a dead corpse skating around on the ice in 2008-2009, I wasn't angry, just sad and kind of bummed out. I really root for him to play well, not just because he's a Sabre, but because I love him. I love his quiet play, I love his responsible defense, I love his bashful monotone interviews, I love that not only will he shoot the puck when he's open, he'll shoot the puck when he's behind the net and three players, I love the teeny-tiny smile that pops out when he scores a goal, I love the way he skates off the ice almost as if he's afraid if he doesn't get to the bench quickly, they're going to take the goal away, I love that fact that he's super handsome but totally beneath the puck bunnies' notice.
I love him. When it came time to do something with the banner, it had to be Jochen. When it came time to think about a new jersey, it had to be Jochen. When it came time to officially anoint someone Heather B.'s next favorite player, it had to be Jochen. I don't know why I ever thought otherwise.
It had to be you.