This is one of those times when I know exactly how I feel and what I'm trying to say but I also know I didn't really capture it very clearly. I'm posting this anyway though because I'm trying to get back in the habit of blogging somewhat regularly.
My name is Heather B. and I'm excited about Puck Drop and new jerseys.
I've seen a lot of grumbling from both fans and professionals the last week or so about how some fans are so gullible and easily distracted from the quality of the team. Throw them new jerseys, take their money, and laugh in their faces. It's an outrage - an OUTRAGE - that Sabres ownership would play that way and it's an outrage - AN OUTRAGE! - that fans would fall for it.
Look, get over yourselves. Seriously.
Let's be honest. You and me, the ones who are reading and writing blogs and obssessing over every little breath the Sabres take, we're the freaks. For each one of us, there are at least 100 fans who couldn't name the general manager, an assistant coach, or a single prospect. They buy a jersey or a shirt, they turn on the TV or show up at the arena, they watch the players who skate onto the ice, and then they go home. All they want from the Sabres, maybe even more than winning, is a fun experience, and it makes sense for the Sabres to market themselves to those fans. I would guess that of the 18,000 people who go to every game there are more casual fans than hardcore fans. You don't have to like it, I guess, but thems the breaks. Do you really want to see what the Sabres' budget would be without an influx of money from jersey sales? I don't think you do.
That criticism is also just annoying. I'm really excited about the new jerseys. I can't wait to see them on the players on Saturday. As soon as I save enough pennies, I'll be buying one. But I haven't forgotten about the team. I'm not thrilled with our top six forwards. I'm a little worried about our defense coming together. I remain a firm Craig Rivet skeptic despite all the talk about him being 100% healthy. I wish the line-up had gotten more of a shake-up in the off-season. I'm perfectly capable of being an excited fan AND an informed fan. They're not mutually exclusive.
I don't know if things really have gotten more shrill this off-season or if it's always been like this and I just hadn't noticed or been bothered by it before, but it seems like a lot of people are suddenly taking professional sports very, very seriously. Fans are offended and insulted by the local teams and they're being told they should feel that way by certain media outlets and personalities and well, I don't get it.
By all means, if you're not happy with the product you're getting, stop spending your money. I got no problem with that. If I were a football fan, I would have quit watching the Bills years ago, and I understand that some people are there with the Sabres. But I don't get the drama about it. I don't love the current Sabres roster but I'm not offended that Tom Golisano wants to make a profit on his investment. I'm not insulted that Darcy Regier either couldn't get or didn't want any big headline-inducing names here. The Sabres didn't spit in my face when they bought out Tim Kennedy. It's just all too serious. It's sports. It's entertainment. I would love, love, love to see the Sabres hoist a Stanley Cup. Buffalo would have a blast with that. But it's not going to change my life if they do. I'm not going to get through college any faster, I'm not going to find a better job, I'm not going to suddenly have a house full of children. And on the flip side, it's not going to ruin my life if they don't win a championship. Buffalo is the only pro sports town I've ever lived in (that I remember - those 8 months in Pittsburgh are pretty fuzzy, being an infant and all) so I don't know if it's a sports thing or if it's specifically a Buffalo thing, but Buffalo sometimes wraps way too much of its collective self-worth up in how the sports teams perform. I don't roll that way. Golisano not caring about winning doesn't reflect on or hurt me. Derek Roy and Drew Stafford being satisfied with playing at 60% effort most nights doesn't reflect on or hurt me. If it does, I'm giving them and hockey too much power.
So yeah, I'm going to Puck Drop on Saturday, and I'm pretty dang excited about it. I'm not going to analyze the players or how they play in a freaking scrimmage. I'm not going to pay attention to lines and pairings. I'm going to have fun. I'm going to meet up with some folks I only know from the internet. I'm going to see some friends I haven't seen since last season ended. I'm going to enjoy being in the arena again. I'm going to delight in how something about seeing Lindy Ruff on the ice makes it feel like it's officially hockey season. I'm going to send Jochen Hecht happy, new favorite player thoughts. I'm going to ooh and aah over the jerseys. I'm going to revel in the sound of skates cutting across the ice and pucks rattling around the boards because I suddenly really miss those sounds.
Fun. Hockey is fun. That's it. That's all I want. If you don't like it, well, too bad.