Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hockey is Back? Yay, Hockey!

As you might be able to tell from the last couple of posts, it's been a weird off-season for me and hockey.  I was weary of the whole scene and annoyed by a lot of what people were obsessing over.  So I was really pleased at how happy being in the arena Saturday and Monday made me.  I wasn't even the door before that happiness started to wash over me.  Kids running down the street in jerseys, teenagers playing impromptu games of ball hockey in parking lots, the cold air in the building, hearing coaches barking and sticks slapping pucks, Lindy standing at center ice, players grinning and swirling around in undecipherable drills, fans trickling in, everyone laughing and excited.  That's the good stuff.

A few observations:

I met up with Kate for practice on Monday morning and honestly, there are very few things I can think of that are as relaxing and entertaining as watching the Sabres practice.  I don't know if it comes of not ever playing hockey or not, but I can rarely make sense of the drills they do.  We watched one that seemed to involve three defensemen and about fifteen forwards.  I have no idea.  But after a few minutes I quit trying to guess because it's just fun to watch.  Without the crowd noise, you can really hear the sounds of hockey which are awesome - all those skates cutting across the ice, the pucks rattling around the boards, the players tapping their sticks and calling for passes, the coaches barking out orders.  And minus the game action, I seem to really notice how skilled these guys are.  The eway even the worst skaters on the team skate blows my mind.  The swooping circles, the sharp starts and stops, the defensemen doing their backward zig-zags.  It's all so amazing.  I highly recommend practice if you can get there at some point this week.  (I started this on Monday.  If you haven't been to practice yet, you're probably screwed.  Sorry.)

I don't think of Ryan Miller as one of my favorite players - I'm not sure why because he's awesome, he's interesting, and he's sincere, all things that I like.  But when he skated on the ice for the team introductions at Puck Drop, I was filled with a genuine, warmness and affection.  He's a Vezina winning goalie.  He's a franchise player who seems to have really embraced the franchise he plays for.  All the arguments and complaints that the Sabres would suck without Ryan Miller are pointless because Ryan Miller is a Sabre.  When he pulls on his jersey every day, it has a Sabres logo on it.  I've been watching him for so long now that it's easy to forget that he is legitimately one of the best players in the NHL, the kind of player some fans would kill for.  He's also a really nifty guy.  And he's ours.  I'm going to try not to take him for granted so much this season.

I've blogged a number of times now about how, for me, certain players work into a corner of my irrational heart.  They're not necessarily the best players on the team - I'm not sure they ever have been really - but there's something about them that makes me really root for them to do well.  I realized during Puck Drop and again during scrimmage, that I really, really want Chris Butler to have a strong bounce back season.  I suppose that's partly because it would be nice for the team's performance if he didn't suck eggs, but it's mostly because I just like him.  He seems like such a nice kid.  I don't follow a lot of celebrities or athletes on Twitter - they're either so annoying that I realize I probably wouldn't like them in real life or they're so bland that there's kind of no point - but I make an exception for Chris Butler*.  His Twitter feed is SUPER bland, but I don't know, sweet and non-controversial seem to work for him.  And okay, there's the totally adorable picture he's currently using as his avatar.  I mean... The hat.  Those waders.  How can you not want that kid doing great things on your blue line?  Come on, Butts, I know you can do it!

 Cuteness personified.

Kate, Pookie, Schnookie, Patty, and I have often discussed REFUSING things.  (I'm pretty sure the Ookies brought up this concept first.)  Sometimes there are things - TV shows, movies, teams, players - that you just REFUSE with no real good reason.  It doesn't matter what other people say about how awesome they are.  In fact, sometimes heaps of praise just make you REFUSE something even more.  I've been refusing Shaone Morrisonn.  Now, I do have a few very good reasons for this: He spells his first name funny and funny in a way that makes me want to pronounce it "Shane."  (My spell check agrees.)  I remember there are two doubled letters in his last name but I always want to make them the "r" and the "s," not the "n."  He's a former Cap.  He's also a former Cap who's LOADED with Mike Green cooties.

The real reason I've been REFUSING Shaone Morrisonn, however, is because everyone kept referring to him as "the new Tallinder" or "the Tallinder replacement" or "another Tallinder."  Logically speaking, I know all that really means is that Morrisonn plays a similar style of hockey as Hank.  But emotionally?  No, I do not cotton to that.**  THERE IS NO SUITABLE TALLINDER REPLACEMENT ON THE PLANET EARTH.

However, at the scrimmage on Monday, I noticed him like crazy.  At least three times I thought, "Who is that again," peeked at Kate's roster and realized it was Shaone Morrisonn.  And I've found myself softening on him ever since.  His first name is Gaelic?  Hey, I wanted to name my kid Ewan for a while even though most people wouldn't know how to say it.  That's kind of sweet.  What's that?  He kind of sort of dissed the Caps for not playing much defense while very specifically calling Green the best offensive d-man in the league and not just the best d-man, no qualifier?  Awesome.

So while Shaone Morrisonn is NOT Henrik Tallinder, I'm keeping an eye on him.

And finally, this Mike Harrington story about Jochen Hecht (yay, Yo-Yo!) mentions that Jochen is still doing rehab on his finger.  For some reason that TOTALLY cracked me up.  How do you rehab a pinky?  Little tiny pinky-sized weights?  Push-ups with only your pinkies?  Lots of pinky promises with his kids?  Leave it to Jochen to be adorable.

* Other famous Tweeters I make an exception for: Steve Martin, Nathan Fillion, Shawn Michaels (he tweets like a 15-year-old girl, but I don't know, I'm entertained), Chris Jericho, Roger Ebert, and Carrie Fisher (she rarely tweets though).

** It's been brought to my attention that "I don't cotton to that" is a holdover from my Southern days.  If you don't know what it means, go here or here.


Kathleen said...

Chris Butler's twitter is totally adorkable. It is SO BLAND, but somehow completely endearing. But it makes me miss Stafford's assy twitter. It would be such a fun compare/contrast.

While I'm disappointed Tallinder left, I'd never consider Morrisonn a replacement for him, so I've been excited about him from the get-go. (It helps that in my head, his name is "Scooter".) To me, he's a big, physical, shot-blocking defenseman, and when he and Myers are paired opposing forwards are just going to turn around and give up. And without Scooter, Mike Green is going to be a disaster. This is a win-win-win situation.

TheTickSP said...

That bit about 'refusing' something for no good reason, I totally do that. Often times as a knee jerk reaction away from something 'everyone' loves. I dismissed Firefly (speaking of Nathan Fillion), thinking it must be lame if it's by the Buffy guy. The more my friends went on and on about, the more I stayed away, until I finally watched Serenity. Duh, of course I like it.

Oh, and Ebert can stop RTing bad poetry any time now, thanks.

Heather B. said...

Kathleen, I'd never thought about the affect on Green. That IS a win-win-win. Okay, I love Shaone Morrissssonn!

Tick, I think it's actually easier sometimes to refuse something that everyone else loves. I cannot, however, imagine refusing Firely. But hey, that's how REFUSING works.

I do wish I could block most of Ebert's RTs. I like his original tweets much, much more.

S.A.M. said...

" All the arguments and complaints that the Sabres would suck without Ryan Miller are pointless because Ryan Miller is a Sabre. "

Truer words were never spoken. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but I approve of that statement. :)

I have no problem with Mo as long as he plays well. I read the Capitals blog regularly and often saw his name in there positively, so I'm okay with him.

I love the concept of REFUSING. I do that too- even when it might be something I'd like.. like for instance "Glee"- I won't even watch it, though it might be fun. I just can't go there.

Saw Hank last night at the Devils game in NJ. He looked good out there. Sad that he's not a Sabre anymore, but they will take good care of him. :)

And one more thing: I totally love watching hockey practices. I also find them quite soothing and interesting at the same time. the dynamics between individual players and then the group and Coach is always fascinating. :)