Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My View from Pominville

            I have been holding off on writing about the Sabres for a while now but feel it’s time for me to say a few things about the last couple of months. I’m not going to write about who I think needs to be fired, what kind of players we are lacking, who needs to be traded, or who we need on our team. There are plenty of sites that have already covered that in great detail and each one has a different idea. What I want to write about is how I feel as a fan of this team and to remind myself of why I became a Sabres fan in the first place. You don’t have to agree with me. I’m sure most people won’t. But it’s my blog and my opinion… take it or leave it I guess.

            I may not have been a fan as long as most Sabres fans (I came on board around 1996 in the Dominik Hašek days) but I grew in Montana where even though it's cold enough to freeze your nostrils shut in the winter, surprisingly, hockey is not a huge sport. When my brother received a full ride to Boston University I discovered hockey and a fan was born.

            I am a loyal fan of the Buffalo Sabres, win or lose. Yes I feel like crap when they lose but I’m also on a high when they play hard for 60 minutes, everything clicks, and they get the win. I know these men want to win just as much as we want to see them win. They make major sacrifices to play this game for our entertainment. We don’t see the hours they spend at practice, the gym, the doctor, the dentist, and physical therapy. We never have to see what goes on after the game when they go home to their families or empty apartment. We expect them to play at the top of their game every night and if they go through a stretch of low production we say their time is up, their game is over, time to move on, trade em’. I've never been that kind of fan.

            I'll admit though that this season it has been tough for me not to be that kind of fan. I did find myself after a few games tweeting, “#DoSomethingDarcy or #DoSomethingTerry”. Then I snapped out of it and remembered the things I mentioned above. I’m not saying that the people who feel that way are wrong. In fact, they may be right but it’s not my call. I didn't elect the men on this team or Terry, Ted, and Darcy. I know there is the argument that they wouldn't have a job if it was not for us fans therefore we have a say in what happens to our team but I don’t feel that way. I admire Terry for all he has done to make the organization better in the last year. I have participated in live chats with Ted Black and had my questions answered. And if you have followed my blog you know all I did was ask Kevin Sylvester if I could interview him and he said yes. How did I ask him?.... On Twitter. So I'm proud of what they are doing to keep the fans involved and the way they are embracing social media. That doesn’t mean they have to do what we say. In the end it’s their call and as a fan I stand by that call.

            Last year I remember after a loss I would see posts on the Sabres’ facebook page that said we should trade Miller or other players. Then we would get the win and those same people would sing Miller’s praise and what a kick-ass goalie we had. The same thing is happening this year, minus the praising of players for the most part. I guess it is just the way I am but I stand by my team. I want them to win for THEM not for me. When they play a shitty game and everything goes wrong I know they are not proud of the way they played. So do they need me to bitch about it and say what a shitty team they are? I don’t know? Maybe that works for some players but I don’t think it's productive.

            For some reason we think that these players are no longer regular people when they play professional sports. They are paid these huge salaries and we expect them to play at top level until they retire. They are gifted athletes that play a sport for our entertainment. They have careers that for most won’t last past the age of 40 and play a sport that causes injuries they will still feel until their 90’s. So I don’t buy in to the argument that they don’t deserve the money if they are having an off season. The things they put their bodies through and the sacrifices they make to their safety and long term health deserve that paycheck. Not to mention they only have that kind of salary while they play the game and for most that is not a huge amount of time. They could have an injury that takes them out of the game permanently tomorrow or play for the next 10 years and have an amazing career. That is what is on the line for them and their families every time they step on the ice. And if you think that’s not enough don’t forget those fluke accidents that happen on the ice like what happened to Travis Roy and recently Jack Jablonski who are now both paralyzed from hockey injuries. And we all remember Clint Malarchuk and Richard Zednik who could have died from having their neck sliced open from a skate blade. Even this season Nathan Gerbe took a skate to the face. Had he been a few inches taller that blade could have hit his throat. These dangers are there every game for these guys.

            So, am I happy with the way this season is going? No, of course not, but I’m not mad. I know this happens some seasons and there is nothing you can do as a fan (trust me, I'm also a Red Sox fan but that’s another story). All I can do is continue to cheer for my team every game and be proud to be a Sabres fan. Yes, I said it, I am PROUD to be a Sabres fan! I’m proud to have the owner we have, all the staff that works so hard for this team, and of those guys on the ice that play the game I love. So if they start winning every game and they turn this season around I will be there screaming at my T.V. in the playoffs. But, if they just can’t get things going this season I will still be screaming at my T.V. on their last game of the regular season when they leave the ice. This is my team!


To read more about Jack Jablonski
and/or make a donation please
go to:

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Friday, August 5, 2011

My Interview with Travis Roy

When I started this blog I had a simple concept. I wanted to interview everyday people to hear their story about how their lives are connected to hockey. I had no training on how the process works or the best way to write about an interview, but I loved doing it.
If there was ever an ultimate story to demonstrate how wonderful the hockey connection is it is the story of Travis Roy. (You can read about his story in a previous post I did on my blog here The Shortest Shift.) Travis is hockey. He may no longer be physically able to play the game but he will always be a part of the sport he grew up in. It is simply awe inspiring how his foundation has thrived through the hockey connection and I hope that after reading this article you will become part of that connection too. Whether it is by making a small donation (or a large one) or just sharing the article with others who would enjoy it or may be able to donate, you will become part of Travis Roy's hockey connection. I couldn't ask for anything more....

Have you ever sat and thought about how long 11 seconds is? Maybe it's the time it takes you to walk to your mailbox or from your front door to your car. But for Travis Roy 11 seconds was all it took to send his life down a much harder road than he could ever imagine. He's been on that road for nearly 16 years now. In that time he has not only become an amazing inspiration but, with his Travis Roy Foundation, has helped improve the lives of spinal cord injury survivors by providing assistance, information, and support.

I had the honor of getting the chance to interview Travis and knew his story well. In October of 1995 Travis took the ice to start his first shift, in his first game, as a Boston University hockey player.While heading into the corner, his accident has been put many ways: he stumbled, fell awkwardly, bounced. Whatever term you use it ultimately caused him to go head first into the boards, cracking his fourth vertebra, and leaving him paralyzed from the neck down- He would later regain some use of his right arm. How long did all of this take? 11 seconds.

When I sat down on a Friday afternoon to interview Travis Roy he was away from his home in Boston and was spending time at his family's home in Vermont. “It's fantastic weather, couldn't be any better.” Travis said. “I'm just looking at the lake, watching a few boaters. I can hear my cousin swimming at another part of the lake. All things considered, this is a good day.”

I glanced out my own window and saw my crazy yellow lab, Maggie, running in circles out in the beautiful weather in my own backyard. Travis was right. It was a good day.

One of the first things I wanted to know was what Travis enjoys doing now. Being an art person myself, I asked if he was still painting. “I took a bit of a hiatus,” he explained, having only recently started to paint again in the last two years. “It has become a great tool for the foundation to use as a fundraiser on the website.”

Probably my real passions now are good food and going out to good restaurants,” he said. “Maybe pulling some fun recipes off the internet… especially in the summer when I'm with my parents and they are up to cooking it for me.” Aside from being a food connoisseur Travis also likes to travel. Whether it's visiting his parents down in Florida, spending time at their vacation home in Vermont, or traveling to do one of his motivational speaking engagements, Travis gets around.

Travis makes his living on his motivational speaking, doing between 30-40 a year. His audiences range from large corporate 500 companies and local businesses to high schools and colleges. He doesn't make a penny from the Travis Roy Foundation but admits he spends 4-5 times more time working on the foundation than he does on his motivational speaking

The Travis Roy Foundation was created in 1997 and over the years there have been fundraisers and generous donations from individuals and companies. I asked Travis how the foundation is run and how he keeps in touch with those who help run it. “The foundation, as a whole, is all volunteer and pro bono,” he said, explaining that the main administration goes on in Boston at a law firm. “We've been very fortunate to have a gentleman there that has been there since day one after my accident.”

It was another hockey connection that led to that gentleman getting in contact with Travis so soon after his accident. When Travis was a kid there was a minor league hockey player playing for the Maine Mariners named Brian Burke. Travis' dad managed the rink so Travis and his dad got to know Brian pretty well. “In fact,” Travis said, “Brian Burke taught me how to pack my hockey bag at summer hockey camp.”

Eventually Brian hung up his skates and went to Harvard Law and became a lawyer. Then he went and worked for the law firm Palmer and Dodge which was the same law firm where Art Page- the gentlemen that would end up helping Travis after his accident, was working. So Art got to know Brian Burke.

Brian left the law firm and made his way back to the NHL…this time as a GM of the Vancouver Canucks, and  then as GM of the Anaheim Ducks and won the Stanley Cup there. More recently he went to Toronto where he is currently the GM and was also the GM of the US Olympic team at the last Olympics.

So it all goes back to again, just me being 5 years old and Brian being a minor league hockey player,” Travis said. “I went one way and he went the other and then our worlds came back together when he saw the headlines on the news the night of my accident. He called up his friends at his old law firm and said, ‘This is great family and can you help them out.' ”

The one thing that blows my mind is over the past 16 years the good will that just continues to follow my story,” Travis said when I asked him about fundraisers for his foundation. “This guy read my book 10 years ago in Vermont and he had a couple of kids who played youth hockey. He called up the foundation and said, 'Look, I built this replica of Fenway Park in my backyard and I think we could do a fundraiser.' ” That was the first year of the wiffle ball tournament. In that first year it was a 1 day tournament with 7 teams and raised about $4,000.00. Last year was the 9th year. It was a 3 day tournament with 24 teams and raised $380,000.00. “It has become our largest fundraiser. So again from the guy that read my book and decided to do a wiffle ball tournament, to the guy that taught me how to pack my hockey bag, the hockey community has been just phenomenal.”

Another woman who lives up in the North Shore in Boston heard about The Travis Roy Foundation and it just so happened that her husband played at BU in the early 1980's. She said she would like to host a party and do a fundraiser. She ended up doing 3 parties each summer and raised $150.000.00. “So there is the BU hockey family as well there,” Travis said.

With Travis living in Boston, I had to ask him if he was a Bruins fan? “I certainly am,” he said loud and clear. “Both my parents went to UVM and when I went there on my recruiting trip for college the freshman class was Éric Perrin, Martin St.Louis, and Tim Thomas. Obviously I chose to go to BU but I've always enjoyed watching Tim Thomas,” Travis explained. "As intense and passionate as Tim is when he plays, he never seems to lose the joy of playing the game. You can clearly tell that he's having fun each and every game, win or lose. You can also tell he doesn't take playing in the NHL for granted.

It was such a pleasure to watch a team come together like that and even more pleasurable just to watch a guy enjoy and work hard to get to live that dream of Vezina, MVP, and Stanley Cup Champions,” Travis said.

The Travis Roy Foundation in the last 3 years has raised about $600.000.00 annually which is significant for an all volunteer/pro bono staff. They try to split the money 50/50 between research grants and individual grants that allow people with spinal cord injuries to be able to purchase adaptive equipment to improve their lives. “It's gut wrenching…literally,” Travis said. “Reading the quarterly trustee grant applicant stories and what they are going through and what they need. It's really hard to say no to any of them. If we were raising 5 million dollars a quarter we would be in good shape but unfortunately we're not.”

I love the quote from the dad who fell out of a tree while playing with his kids,” Travis said, referring to a gentleman who received a grant. “The family owned a three story home and what he needed was an elevator. So we got him the elevator and he hadn't been able to see his kids' rooms in 6 months. His quote was, 'I thank God on the way up and the Travis Roy Foundation on the way down.'”

I spent almost an hour that day talking to Travis and if you read my last blog post you know that I recorded the phone call on my computer. I have never hated the sound of my own voice more in my life! You can hear Travis who is such an articulate, well-spoken man and then my crazy voice struggling to come up with words other than “uhhhh” and the worst of all, the word “like”. I sounded like I turned into some valley girl from the 80's! Well, alright, I wasn't that bad but it was close.

In all seriousness, that day will forever be on my list of great days I've had in my life. I have to thank Mike at Center Ice News for getting me the interview in the first place and of course Travis Roy.

To Travis, You are such a gift to all the people you help and inspire. I know one day you will find yourself back on that road and this time get to take the other path. May you continue to find things you enjoy in life and all you look forward to. You will remain in my thoughts and prayers always. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

I started this article by talking about what you can do in 11 seconds. Well I bet that is just about the time it would take for you to click on the link below and be forever connected to the Travis Roy Foundation. Maybe someday they will raise 5 million dollars a quarter and never again have to turn away someone in need.

I will leave you with a quote I found on the foundation's website:

“There are times in our lives when we choose our challenges and other times when the challenges simply choose us. It is what we do in the face of those challenges that defines who we are, and more importantly, who we can and will become.”
- Travis Roy

Travis has a new online fundraising program called "The 24 Club". The concept is simple: Get 24 people to donate $24.00. You can read more about it on the Foundation's website here. I have created my own 24 Club page and made the first donation of $24.00 myself. I now need 23 more people to donate $24.00 (or even more if you like). I created a page on my blog to showcase the people, companies, and websites that sponsor The Hockey Connection's Travis Roy Foundation 24 Club.

To donate, go to my 24 Club Page and click on the words Sponsor Me below the goal thermometer. You can also click on the sponsor me link I just listed to go directly to the donation page. I thank you all in advance for your gift and ask you to please spread the word. Share this blog page with your friends on twitter and facebook. I would love to see the Travis Roy Foundation trending on twitter! I think all people in the hockey world and fans of the game should know Travis' story and about his foundation. I will do my best to spread the word and please ask you to do the same. Thank you so much!

Travis Roy Foundation on Facebook

Travis Roy Foundation on Twitter

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Interview List

A few weeks ago while on vacation with my family and I decided to create a list of hockey people I would love to interview. I pulled out my yellow legal pad and wasted no time writing down the first few names. Number one on my list was Travis Roy, followed by Chris Drury, and then Rick Jeanneret (I am after all a Sabres fan). I continued to add names until I reached the last line on the page. They were in no order. I just wrote down the names as they popped in my head. I put it away and figured I would put the list on my blog in the next few days as sort of a joke.

The next day I checked my e-mail and saw a message from Mike at Center Ice I figured it was just an update on things on the site. When I opened the email two words jumped off the screen...Travis Roy. I had no idea that Center Ice News was even in contact with him so what followed was even more stunning... agrees to do interview with Center Ice News and I thought you would be the perfect person to do it.

There were a few things that made me have this feeling I get when I just know something was meant to be. One of course was the list I had made the night before. Two was that I knew Travis was all about creating goals, and in a way that's what my list was. And three, my brother was a student at BU when Travis had his accident so I knew his story and had followed it as much as I could.

I emailed Mike back and told him of course I would do the interview and to just forward me the information. Then reality sank in! I started my blog with the idea I would talk to the people of hockey and their connection to the game. I never thought that it would lead to interviewing people who were so well know in the hockey world. I was still on a high from getting to interview Kevin Sylvester who's interview happened in much the same way. I asked, and he said yes. Now I a was about to interview Travis Roy! It was crazy.

As I mentioned before, Travis is big on having goals and writing them down. It might sound stupid or feel ridiculous to some people to write down their goals. And my interview list was more of a wish list than goals (I never actually thought I would ever interview any of the people on my list). But if you've never written down your own goals before I suggest you try it sometime. There is something to be said for writing your goals out on paper and seeing it each day. It makes it concrete in a way and reminds you of where you are going.

Over the next two days I grew more confident in my ability to do the interview. I prepared an outline of questions I could email Travis and then, if needed a few follow up questions. When I saw a new email from Mike I figured it would contain an email address for Travis. Instead I was shocked by what it said, “Travis said to just give him a call and you can do the interview over the phone.” Then it listed Travis' email and phone number.

I was thrilled and worried at the same time. I mean how cool was it that I was going to get to talk to Travis but that meant that I was going to have to talk to Travis! I had only done interviews through chats and emails, both of which put distance between myself and the subject. I was able to edit what I wanted to ask or say right up until the moment I hit send on my computer. Now I would have to do my first live interview and it was with the number one guy on my list. I was starting wish “The Zamboni Guy” had come to my mind first when I created my list instead of his current location at #29!

Travis and I exchanged a few emails and we set a time and date to do the interview. I researched about how to record phone calls to my computer. After creating a google voice account and going in a round about way I was able to record an out going call (I filed that little tidbit of information away just in case I ever needed to record a phone call in the future).

So there I sat at noon my time, notebook in hand, ready to call Travis and add a new chapter to the amazing places my blog has taken me....

Just a quick note... I have already done my interview with Travis and I'm in the process of posting soon. I had a few set backs in writing the article that included a surprise visit from my family (not that I don't love you Mom and Dad!) So I promise to have it up soon and hope you enjoyed hearing about how it all came about...

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Monday, June 27, 2011

My Interview with
Buffalo Sabres' Kevin Sylvester

The other day during the Sabres Summit I was once again impressed by the organization's ability to connect with the fans. If you were unable to participate, I suggest you check out the blogs listed below. The Sabres selected bloggers from around the area to blog about the event, while fans sent in questions. I'm sure this made it much easier for the panel compared to what happened to Ted Black during his chat back in April. Towards the end of the three hour long chat Ted found himself with no tech support (probably because it was so late and they needed to go home). He had to fend for himself, filtering through all the questions being asked, and still managed to do an awesome job. This time bloggers did the filtering and Ted could sit back and enjoy a beer ( which I think he had in hand when he came out if I remember right). For more info on the Summit, here are a few good sites.... Sabres Summit Part 1 Sabres Summit Part 2 Sabres Summit Part 3 (would not load today, but listing it anyway)

There were a few things that the Sabres Summit did for me, a girl blogging about hockey from the state of Oregon:

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Hockey Wife


As I watched the NHL Awards last night there were a few things that stood out. One of course was Lady Bing winner, Martin St. Louis, having his name slaughtered by two blond Real Housewives of somewhere. The other thing that stood out was in the acceptance speeches of the winners. Almost every man (with the exception of Jeff Skinner who isn't aloud to date yet) thanked their wife, fiancé, or girlfriend  for their support.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Stuff Coming... I Promise!

Well I recovered from my kidney infection just in time for the last few weeks of the school year. So my time has been spent being a chaperon for both of my kids' classes on field trips.

When I was on my daughter's trip to the State Capitol I watched the kids excitedly look out the bus windows to try and catch a glimpse of one of the buildings. There is a giant gold statue called the "Golden Pioneer" on top of that building.  All the kids strained to see this piece of history they had learned about in class. It was hard to hear over all their shrieks, oohs, and ahhhhs. But then there was this perfect moment of silence at the exact same time one of the kids, looking out the other side of the bus, shouted, "Look! There's the bikini coffee place!"

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Kidney Infection Puts New Postings on Hold for About a Week

I was so excited to get this website up and running! I made some great connections and have some stuff lined up for interviews I'm going to do and other stories I have been working on. Then last week I became sick with a kidney infection and can't seem to get over it. I'm starting a new antibiotic today and hope that will kick the butt of this infection so I can get going on all the stuff I want to do.

So please don't think I have just been lazy or have nothing to write about! Keep checking back and if you have any ideas about people I should interview let me know. I will still be checking the internet a few times a day if I can. And once this infection is gone I will be posting again with some great stuff.

Thanks to all the people who have helped me get my name out there! I did not forget about any of you. I will repay and retweet things again as soon as I am well! Have a good night!


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