Could I Care Less?
Probably not. I don’t think I’ve had this little interest in hockey since I moved from Buffalo to New York City for college and became too busy and involved with my studies and life in general to keep up with the Sabres (and no way would I ever adopt the Rangers, Islanders, or Devils!). Keep in mind, this was the mid-1990s, before internet-streamed live video feeds or torrent downloads for things outside real time!
Today, technology is not the problem, not at all. I love how the internet opens up a lot more hockey games, like last year when I wanted to watch the final IIHF U20 game between Russia and Canada, and saw the amazing come-from-behind gold medal win by the young Russians. The problem is not one of access, though the local cable provider no longer carries the channel which airs Buffalo’s hockey games (is it so bad to save money by cancelling cable when hockey’s THE reason it ever got ordered?).
The problem, then? This season has been one long lesson in the arts of frustration and apathy. After making sure the arena and locker rooms and staff were updated to reflect Terry “Ghoulie” Pegula’s stated goal, “to win Stanley Cups,” he gets the team to make interesting off-season acquisitions like Regehr, Leino, Erhoff. He renews longest-tenured active NHL coach Lindy Ruff’s contract. Goaltender Ryan Miller is coming off a good season, as is sophomore defenceman Tyler Myers. So what is happening to me?
Too much mediocrity! Lindy Ruff is the parent who yells, and his kids, the players, just tune out the screaming. After watching another honored Buffalo sports coach, Marv Levy, take the NFL’s Bills to four Super Bowls only to lose them all, I can say with certainty, coaches are NOT of the most excellent caliber if they fail to win at least one championship in their careers. How many Stanley Cups has Lindy Ruff led a team to win? Zero? Zero. Zero!
As for GM Darcy Regier, perhaps it’s time we consider using him for his true strength, as a scout. He has proven himself as a great judge of young talent, and maybe that’s where he’d do his best work. Maybe he’s been too warped by the Rigases and Golisanos to be able to give billionaire fan-boy owner Ghoulie the core set of players that can go the distance and bring the Stanley Cup to Buffalo.
The current Sabres roster, on paper, looks pretty solid. But then, the plague of injury! Half the team on some nights could be wearing Rochester Americans sweaters, and while it’s nice to see some of the young talent any given season, when the call-ups need to be replaced by more call-ups, how on earth is the team supposed to build chemistry and points to climb in the NHL standings? Back-up goalie Jhonas Enroth sums up the Sabres slump perfectly after the last loss to Winnipeg, when he states, “It’s tough to win a game with only one goal.” Buffalo has scored just one goal in 9 of their last 23 games. Let’s plan now on some excellent springtime adventures, because I don’t think I’ll be heading to any playoff games this year… I’ll employ the almighty ice hockey language of the damned: You’re a joke!
Most unfortunate, the ennui has spread to my general interest in the NHL. Perhaps the fact that the Winter Classic featured two teams I loathe in the Rangers and Flyers didn’t exactly help. Maybe the lackluster offering from teams I’ve enjoyed watching like Calgary and Montreal isn’t helping either. Add to the list the devastating summer losses of a few enforcers, that heartbreaking piece in the New York Times about Derek Boogard–my stance on fighting in the game has shifted perceptibly.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not turning into a fair-weather fan. I will just have to work harder to watch teams I like that ARE performing. Cue me up some Detroit and Vancouver games, and I’ll be back on track to my usual passion. Just not locally, not right now.