Tank you very little


As a lifelong fan of the Buffalo Sabres, and hockey in general, I can’t wait for this season to come to a conclusion. I can’t watch them, it, the abyss that is this team. You look at the BIlls, the other Pegulaville and you get a sense of a plan. While there might be one, the public notion is that Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel will fix the mess that is our hockey team.

So, yeah, i have a hard time “Embracing the tank.” It seems wrong, dishonest, a bit of an insult.

Love the game. When it is played well, it is a thing of beauty. I still remember an inconsequential game from the late 1970s between the Sabres and the Montreal Canadiens. The game ended in a 2-2 tie and everybody went home happy, having seen an incredible show of skating and skill. There wasn’t a penalty called. Watching Buffalo’s French Connection and all the late 70s heroes from the Canadiens’ great run (I think they won the Stanley Cup that year) was a thrill and it is games like that should be mandatory watching, the perfect primer for folks who don’t get hockey.

It’s a little twisted now that the Sabres and Coyotes are playing twice soon with so little on the line (for this season) and so much on the line for the June NHL draft. And even then, there are no guarantees. The NHL uses a lottery system  which waters things down more. If you finish last (what would Ricky Bobby say), you might not be first. How screwy is that? Perhaps if they borrowed a page from the NFL and last drafts first, second last second, and so on, it might restore a little sense of integrity, at least publicly.

Perhaps, it would make February and March hockey a little easier to take. It’s hard to even have my team on even as background noise, as you watch for disaster, like a frozen version of a Nascar fan.

I have hated this season. I have been to a couple of games this year, largely for the suite seats afforded me. I attended the game where Dominik Hasek was honored in a weird, awkward ceremony. When Danny Gare and Rene Robert skated on to the ice, I sort of wish they would have been handed sticks to help out in the equally awkward loss that followed,

Having been a usher there for five seasons, you get nostalgic for those “heroic runs” to the final playoff spot, because at least those had some fun. A come from behind win in overtime against the Maple Leafs a few seasons ago felt like VJ Day. It was exciting that a local guy bought the team a few years back, but after suffering since the Drury Briere cluster in 2007, I’m tired. I don’t want to watch the Blackhawks to see a good game (but dammit they are fun to watch).

11081162_10152672612130025_8180093619240836797_n

While this is funny, it’s also a pretty revolting development.

Can’t be that hard to get to the Cup, I mean I did.

20150326_090527

All you can do is hope Tim Murray is right. After a decade of “rebuilding,” it would be nice to have something to show for it. Like fun hockey to watch. Might take more than one 18 year old to fix it though.

Is that so wrong?

Advertisement

Stay or “Leaf”


http://deadspin.com/cbs-broadcast-shows-fan-falling-from-upper-deck-at-ralp-1466436450?utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_twitter&utm_source=deadspin_twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

Here’s a reason why some folks don’t like going to the stadium for a Bills game. If ever there was a reason to prove that it is sometimes better to be lucky than good, it’s this jamoke. Never understood the drink out of your skull mentality some folks seem to favor.

Don’t get me wrong, I like beer. It’s a good friend of mine, but when it shuts your brainpan down so far you do something so incredibly dumb like this flying wallenda wannabe, you might have sampled a few too many.

And speaking of high quaffing rates, the downtown hockey palace was aglow

20131115_170636 (1)

in anticipation of the return of a former star, a former coach to chart a new direction and the Toronto Maple Leafs. For a place that has been fairly quiet during a disappointing season, we’re lucky the joint didn’t achieve lift off as we got closer to puck drop. The place does get criticized for being atmosphere challenged at times and I think that reflects when things aren’t going ideally on the ice, because atmosphere was spilling out the door Friday eve. Had a largely entertaining time with the busloads of Leaf fans in my area of the rink.

I joked that it was a little like working Monday Night Football out at the Ralph with the Patriots in town, but the excitement was contagious and reminded one of why you do such things at times.

20131115_175506

Even the press box was shiny.

And everybody stayed at their proper levels.

The Puck stops…


I’ve always had it bad, not like Jimmy Fallon in Fever Pitch about the Red Sox bad, but for better or worse, I’ve been a Sabres fan since pretty much there were Sabres to be fans of. The Sunday night 7PM games were a fixture on my clock radio growing up. Snagging a ticket when I was a teenage was close to being Charlie Bucket when he found the golden ticket as they sold out the entire first decade of their existence.

Got to my first game when I was 9 to see Tim Horton and Gil Perreault lead the boys against the…wait for it, California Golden Seals. And the ebb and flow of the relationship took off from there. The shift from the Drury/Briere miss to the onset of Pegulatime was optimism abound. A good friend who left the area and I toasted over the possibilities and the Lucic Incident. So, this season has been a tough one and while the Toronto game this week was a lot of fun to watch, you can’t help but wonder where that has been all year. Hard to love something that shows only passing interest. The glass half full folks point out that they are only four points out of a playoff spot. I get a little tired of the heroic run toward mediorcrity.

The folks at the Trending Buffalo released this.

If we could only play Toronto and Montreal more often

Puck me


Well, puck you too, pal.

We couldn’t have been too upset at the dearth of professional hockey in Western New York. 10,000 people showed up for a scrimmage. It’s amazing how much some shop discounts can do. Absence did indeed make the hearts grow fonder. The Sabres actually didn’t start playing well till this time last year, so maybe playing half the slate will suit em.

If people wanted all kinds of concessions for not playing, is there any compensation coming for how poorly the Bills did play? I mean, you had to watch that?

And so it goes, I honestly didn’t think much about it, missed watching, but no so much I didn’t go and attempt other things.

So, here’s hoping for normalcy. Part of me hopes to get the call to don the usher togs to work the opening game. The Sabres’ home ice has been sometimes distant, with a lot of corporate seats in the lower bowl, but there have been other times where the place has a pulse, you can feel something in the air and the walls practically hum a bit with anticipation and excitement. The last Sabres game I worked was the comeback against the Leafs and it was one of those reminders how much fun this can be, how cool it can be to lose yourself in something bigger than you. The Sabres came back to tie and the collective heart rate at the effn center nearly caused it to vibrate off the foundation. When they beat the Leafs in overtime, you would have thought it was VJ day with all the spontaneous high-fives, hugs and new friendships forged, even temporarily.

I’m reminded of the line from Fever Pitch about loving a team that doesn’t really love you back. Like Jerry Seinfeld says, we’re basically rooting for laundry.

It’s good to have it good to go again. I know my wallet will like the extra shots.

Puck off


I’ve been a hockey fan and Sabres fan for pretty much as long as there has been Sabres, so the end of the lockout, despite the NHL and NHLPA‘s mind boggingly dumb and prolonged foolishness to get the schedule for this truncated season announced, I’m looking forward to seeing the home team frustrate the bejesus out of me once more. It’s been a kick to read what the public relations “experts” decree to “win the fans back over.” Like we’d be in danger of not coming or something. The “Buy Me” this or that discussions that have been populating twitter are actually pretty funny.

Sure, the league and the players association were jerks, probably still are. Hard to feel sorry when both sides of the bargaining table are multimillionaires and they are squabbling over the next pot of money. And to get that resolved, the only way to get that completed, was to screw people who make 8 to 10 bucks an hour working the games. To deny those folks income was the only way to figure out how to divvy the millions between the millionaires. It almost sounds like Congress.

Hockey never went anyplace, goofs, you guys did.

My hockey fandom did other things, read books, took in films, watched the occasionally college game. The me that took a gig for extra income that involved  a dozen games by this time last year, that guy however was not amused. But my losses were chump change.  There is a movement afoot here called #hockeymob that I hope takes hold to get folks to go watch the games (cuz, we all will) in places that got hurt by the lack of the NHL. If you see it online, try it out. That makes more of a difference than discounted t shirts or free sodas.

Next time you got some issues there, NHL and NHLPA, it might behoove you to start working a little sooner. It would save on having to paint “Thank You Fans” or some other patronizing sentiment on the ice in each rink.

By the opening faceoff next sunday, all will be forgotten at the FNC and surrounding area. It would be good to spread the mirth. All the bloviating and obfuscating of the past four months will be in the past and we can start joking about how for the past few years, the Sabres didn’t really turn it on till this time of the year anyway.

I might still yell at Derek Roy out of habit anyway

Long Time Listener, First Time Caller….


I’m not a talk radio guy truth be told, nothing against the medium, not my usual cup of tea while at work or on my seven minute commute to work. But sports talk? I don’t listen to that either as there is no bar to sit at while you debate good firstbasemen. But, if I did:

The Wildcat is stupid. There I said it. If you are running a football team, and a prospective coach applies saying he is a specialist “in the wildcat,” run away. I love a good trick play and all, but this is pointless drivel that doesn’t fake anybody out. The NFL, being devoid of original thinkers, sees one play go well and suddenly, everybody is trying it, and nobody is winning with it. Yet. Flea flickers and reverses tend to fake more folks out and have the side benefit of working.

Dear NHL,NHLPHA, Donald Fehr, Gary Bettman – FIX IT!! and don’t come out until you do. As somebody who stretches his paycheck by moonlighting at Sabres games on the event staff, the recent round of soundbytes about “being made whole” is so self-serving I could vomit. I don’t see any of you thinking of making those who us who actually lost money on this damn strike/job action whatchamajigger. Considering the money you are arguing about, you could and you should. And one last thing when you come back, no “thank you fans” b.s. on the ice. You guys owe, I mean, all owe an apology of epic proportions.

I mean, geez, if Hostess can settle….

The Toronto Blue Jays with all their new fleecing of the We don’t like our Fans much of the Miami Marlins suddenly have gotten very interesting again. Baseball gets a little more interesting when teams that have been dormant for some time sudden rise. Nicest story to come out of last season was the success of the Baltimore Orioles. I mean, how you can you hate them??

The following thought left my brain while watching Sportscenter. “Hmm, Ray Allen is with the Heat now. That’s a good pickup for them.” See, see, NHL, see what your shenanigans hath wrought! Happy now!!!

If the Eagles fire Andy Reid, the Bills should grab him in a heartbeat. It would be an upgrade as Reid probably tries running on third and 1 periodically.

I’ll hang up and listen…

Ranting


George Carlin used to do a bit called the complaint department. It popped into my mind as I went into battle against the software I use to construct an enewsletter for my office.

I could almost hear Brother George say “and here’s another group of people who should be smacked up with a bag of hammers.” In this case, it could apply to the software geniuses who put this albatross of a site together. But I’ll win when we resume the battle. I always do.

But as long as we are tossing the deserving kicking and screaming from helicopters…

Campaign ad designers and the folks approving their work. If Congress doesn’t act soon, milk prices will double and our payroll taxes are going up and that’s the stuff I’m can name most immediately. I don’t give a crap about how many gyms one guy has, or what can’t be reversed at a given company. Talk about what you are going to do, I get that you don’t like the person you are running against.

The NHL, players & owners and the commish. You all knew your agreement was coming to a close and waited until the 11th hour to do something about it. It’s hard to feel sympathy for an argument over how to split millions while the event staff, from concession folks to game staff to ushers like myself lose out on the nice supplemental income that made us take SECOND jobs first place. Go into a board room and don’t come out till you have it fixed and don’t spray paint anything patronizing like “Thank You Fans” on the ice when the games resume. It’s insulting. How about “We’re Sorry, Fans, We screwed up.”

Anybody who covers any of the above until the situation is fixed…

Anybody concerned with what Donald Trump and his millions aren’t buying in the presidental race.

The guy who thought disbanding FEMA was a good campaign talking point. We have to let Big Bird drown now too? Go find a real talking point. It astounds me that there are potential voters that this resonates with, that these folks were fine the meaningless color coded nonsense waste of time pantone charts for the considerable more expensive homeland security (a department which didn’t exist 15 years ago). I mean, isn’t this the kind of thing where government can help instead of sweating about who’s zoomin who.

oh, yeah, almost forgot, Shut Up, Ann

Ramble On


Sigh, you go away for a few days….

The Lloyd’s Taco Truck guys go to a stop in Amherst that they’ve been at before (by invitation) and suddenly get invited to leave in violation of a law that doesn’t apparently exist. This is a little bumfuzzling to this disinterested observer as don’t you have to have the law first, then the breakage of same? While $100 isn’t huge, it smells like some of the restauranteurs are looking for a little protection, since they don’t move. I mean, they (the brick and mortar folk) should concentrate on making good food. That is what folks go to the trucks for. Affordable good product is a good thing. Make that and people will come to your table.

While I’m on the subject, one of the episodes of No Reservations dealt with a veritable food court of trucks in, I think, Portland that gave a place of residence. An idea for large gatherings here. If the Truck-ers have to jump through hoops, the fixed spots should too. None of this crying because the trucks can work in a lot. It’s funny to me as nobody gets upset with the Ice Cream trucks and they play that same damn song over and over, practically ruining “The Sting” for me. That is something to be disgruntled about, not this other foolishness.

************

I’m not taking credit for it, but I wrote about it back in June. The “It” is the possibility of turning a portion of Gallagher Beach into something swimable, giving Buffalo a city beach and the kind of thing that people might actually come to the city to use. https://mikespub.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/beachin-and-hopin/ is the blog entry and if one of the seven people who read it works with the powers that be, then good for both of us. It’s Buffalo, give people some water to fall into, when they stand up, they will want to eat something.

************

The high school version of me is happy that the late middle age version is going to get a new Led Zeppelin album. We can all see of the reunion of a few years ago was really a thing,

************

In wandering around midtown Manhattan last week, I happened across the NHL Store (no, it wasn’t closed), but it did offer proof that it is possible to buy a Buffalo Sabres windbreaker for $90. This is something I chose NOT to do, but I half expected the commish to show up and say they weren’t charging enough. The Sabres, by the way, should have been one game into their preseason schedule as I write this…….groan.

************

When your presidential candidate does comment about windows on an airplane rolling down, shouldn’t you at least question the timing of the attempt at humor?

************

Instead of tearing down the Skyway, can’t we just paint the pillars to match the Canalside chairs (my dad’s idea)? It’s cheaper, would look nice and fills the gap of what do you replace the skyway with?

************

Still jazzed over this:

Shut it, Hockey


I think I’ll be the Christmas rush and start being annoyed with my favorite spectator sport now. It seems to me that the NHL and the NHLPA knew they had a deadline. They knew this for more than an afternoon or two.

Yet, the squabbling over how to divide more than a billion dollars in revenue has them at an impasse of not returning each other’s phone calls like they are petulant eighth graders (my apologies to actual eighth graders, almost all of which have better adjusted priority systems). The phrase 50-50 might be a good leaping off point. I’m sure somebody will point out that “it’s not that simple.” Yeah, well, it isn’t that complicated either. For a system so “broken,” there have been a lot of high profile, big ticket signings lately.

Instead, fans are going to get screwed with their pants on again. There are those of us pocket an hourly wage that will miss some income while these guys don’t schedule meetings. It’s too bad as the local team found out, that it isn’t the noise makers that make for atmosphere, it’s winning hockey. When the Sabres came back in the last game against the Maple Leafs, it was like VJ Day, with high fives and hugs abound.
So far, the only thing missed is the deadline. But can you imagine the foreign born, foreign playing guy who might lose his spot on his team because an NHL star is coming home to stay in shape for when this ends.

The whole thing about “nobody wants to play more” rings a little hollow when you consider both sides have known that the current collective bargaining agreement was going to expire over the weekend….for, I dunno, eight FLIPPIN YEARS!

There is a good article in today’s Buffalo News that outlines the other venues that get effected by the spat. It hasn’t really gotten underway yet, and I’m already weary about the parade of press conferences announcing nothing in particular.

Here’s my proposal to both sides, get yerselves in the same room and no soundbytes from either side till we have something to say. Get it done without pandering to the networks.

Till then, Go Amerks

Thundersticks with Sid the Kid


Here’s my perch for the Sabres Penguins game Friday night, before you were let in. (Thanks for waiting patiently). I’ve been bemoaning the reaction of the home team‘s administration of game night presentation. They want the place to rock, good hockey will do the trick, but thundersticks rule the moment. Pretty sure, we needed to score more, not more cowbell, but I digress. There was a heavy Pittsburgh contingent thanks to proximity, but it wasn’t like a Leaf game or anything. The spectacle games remind you why this type of stuff can be fun in the first place. The team revived the party in the plaza for the first time in a bit and it seems to draw well. I’m not going to lie, it is a bit of an ego trip to walk through all those proceedings to the security entrance like you have a backstage pass.

I snuck the picture above, about a moment before the call goes out that the “Doors are open.” And I don’t know if it was the atmosphere, Sidney Crosby, the Penguins, the Sabres’ run of late, playoffs, whathaveya, but the building filled quick, but my folks were in a pretty jovial mood with one exception, one guy who didn’t like the wait for the whistle before interrupting the folks in your row. It’s funny to watch people in such a setting. One guy groused that the first four winners of Sabres jerseys were sitting in the 100s (dude, give the promotion a chance!), an infinite amount of people who would come to the top of the stairs and pose like they are on the NHL’s Next Top Model, to the serial texters.

I’ve maintained those of us who know enough not to walk and text at the same time could have a jolly good time with the placement of random fountains, wading pools, and other bodies of water for those who insist on being riveted to their phones while walking and sure enough I had two of those folks. I wondered if I could get them to start in a line, if they would bounce off each other bumper car style for the sake of getting that message across. Largely, because both teams took the second period off, and the Penguins are just better at hockey, at least last night, the drama was at a minimum.

The Sabres’ next task in my mind is to beat the Leafs so badly over the next two games that the Leafs cry and the Sabres’ then tell their mommas about it.