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 HaĊĦek 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!


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