I started ushering at the downtown local Buffalo professional hockey arena in 2009. I needed the extra cash and this seemed like a way to have a fun gig to make that extra dollars and enjoy the assignment at the same time. They are my team.
When you take that posting, you are a building employee first so you are there for all kinds of events but the hockey ruled the roost. The Sabres made some noise in 2006 and 2007 and some of that still echoed off the walls when I started.
It was always a thrill, or at least it was. When the Sabres first started playing, there was something about it. So much so, that when the Sunday night games would start at 7pm, I would listen before drifting off and my brother at the end of the room wouldn’t mind. We both wondered how Ted Darling could tell that the puck that just went over the glass
Now understand, game day is always a thrill. You can’t help but have a bit of anticipation as the event starts to unfold. Behind the scenes is often more captivating than what is visible and I guess that part of the allure for me in assignments such as working an event.
Despite the differences between concerts, lacrosse, tournament basketball, hockey drives the train at that’s fine. For this lifelong fan/parttime usher, that’s alright but for far too long, my hockey has been broken.
There are always good parts. When working the lower portion of the arena and finding a practice puck that made it over the boards, you had a guarantee for brightening a little kid’s evening and making that experience that much more special. But the game would start.
It’s not that weren’t moments. For everybody that ever wrote (however, correctly) about the morgue like state of the fandom, I wish there had been more witnesses to a come from behind Buffalo win over Toronto in I think 2011. The home team came back from two goals down and won it in overtime. The building shook with passion. When the winning goal went in, you would have thought the war was over, deliriously happy strangers were hugging and high fiving, joy was pretty contagious without any assistance from Labatt’s.
When it is going good, it is like watching a game with a bunch of new friends and the wins would yield high fives and laughs that made the long day. When it was going not so well, you were watching the crowd with greater intensity, on Leaf nights to see if all the chemical serenity stayed serene.
I fear the Sabres are squandering Jack Eichel’s talents and what time Rick Jeanneret has left behind the microphone, tragedies both. They aren’t out of it, but to come off a nine day vacation and stumble all over yourselves while playing the worst team in the league (and losing) in your home building in such a zombified like state is a tough beat.
I stopped ushering after the NHL Draft in 2016. The long commute from my fulltime job and scheduling issues along some general exhaustion got to be too much. But when the concerts and other spectacles outnumber the memorable games, that is an issue, and one that still isn’t righted. I think of the overtime goal in 2016 Eichel scored with one second left, the Leaf game I alluded to, and concerts by Stevie Wonder, Further, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam. Roger Waters as the ushering highpoints.
The hockey should really outnumber the music. Hope only springs so eternal, but I can’t help but thinking Darcy Regier & Lindy Ruff weren’t the problem.
Fix the hockey, that will sell the jerseys, that will sell more drinks, that will make the good players stay here to be good, that will get people into what can be a great game. There have been great games here. There was a 2-2 with the Montreal Canadiens played 43 years ago that I still remember because it was such a thing of beauty.
I shouldn’t be watching for when pitchers and catchers report when there is still lots of hockey to be played. It would be nice if it was meaningful or even fun. The fun is drowning in the dispirited, lethargic results.
Fix the hockey, Sabres. My joy is disappearing.
Me, closer to the cup a few year ago, than this year’s squad
They are my team, I’m just exhausted from 13 years of shortcomings. He is too, probably.
(from the Buffalo News)