Archive for December, 2010

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New Year, New Team

December 31, 2010

Tomorrow is New Year’s Day. Many magazines/newspapers have a “New Year, New You” theme that runs at some point during the first couple weeks of the new year. I’d like to take that idea one step further for the Sabres team: “New Year, New Team.” If they follow these simple steps, they may be able to turn their current misfortunes around…somewhat. I’m not saying they would be a playoff contender, but it’s getting really old to keep saying “these guys really, really suck.”

But I digress. Here’s my “New Year, New Team” list.

1. Remember that a hockey game is 60 minutes long, not 40 or 20. Please note that a full team effort should be applied for the full 60 minutes.

2. Shoot the puck at the net. I don’t care if you can make the pass of the year on a two-on-one. If you have a clear shot at the net, take it. Good things happen when you shoot at the net.

3. See #1.

4. Stop taking dumb penalties. Lindy should not be turning that shade of red that often during a game. Think of Lindy’s health, guys!

5. Play a decent team game so Miller can have a relaxing night every once in a while. (As relaxing as a night in goal for a professional hockey player can get, I suppose.)

6. Stop deflecting pucks past your own goalie because your big foot or big stick was in the way.

7. Learn when to pick your fights. Or learn to fight better. (I suppose this one really applies to Montador only. Dude is 19 kinds of heart, but not that great of a fighter. He’s more of a grappler.)

8. Remember #1.

9. Pick up the scoring. Then again, I suppose that should come with following #2.

10. Switch up the locker room music from the MJ. Obviously, MJ has ceased to work.

11. Listen to Lindy. For the love of everything holy, stop tuning out the coach. He knows what he’s talking about.

12. Don’t forget about #1!

13. Play every night like your contract is dangling over a lit Bic lighter in Darcy’s office. Then again, with rumors of the new owner coming aboard sooner rather than later, your contracts may actually be dangling over a lit Bic lighter.

14. For those on a contract year, quickly come down with that case of contractyearitis. (I suppose this only really applies to Timmy. When Stafford has been healthy and been on the ice, he actually hasn’t been half bad.)

15. Don’t forget about #1!

And for us fans: if we’ve learned anything this year, its that we should double check our rumor mongering sources. Then again, if someone did, we wouldn’t have been treated to Punch-Gate and Vogl’s prejudice against the land of feces known as Twitter.

I hope you all have a wonderful (and safe) New Year’s Eve. Catch you back here in 2011!

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It’s Toast!

December 26, 2010

Guess what Santa brought me?!

(That would be the toaster. Not the coffee pot.)

Of course, I had to take the toaster for a test drive. Once I stopped laughing at the instructions that is. Other than the usual “put bread in slot, push lever” and “do not stick metal objects into toaster,” there were others that were pretty freaking sad like “do not submerge in water,” “do not shake” and a whole bunch of others. What makes it all the more insane is that you know if these were included, that someone actually tried to do them at one point. But I digress.

Back to the toaster. The test bread was a lovely piece of Wegmans rye.

It’s not a bad representation of the Sabres logo, not bad at all.

So I have toast. And before I eat my yummy toast, there is one more photo I have to take. The Sabres have been headed on a playoff-less path for awhile now. The loss of Roy for the season might have just cemented their fate as a non-playoff team.

They’re done.

Of course, if they prove me wrong, I will gladly eat some toast in penance.

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Airing My Grievances

December 23, 2010

First off, these gentlemen that dare call themselves hockey players ruined the joy that was the last day at work before a 10-day Christmas vacation. Did I mention it was also Sombrero Thursday at the office? Losing tonight ruined Sombrero Thursday. That is unacceptable. (Sombrero Thursday is the office equivalent of Rex Manning Day. You don’t ruin Rex Manning Day.)

I’m mad that these guys blew Miller’s shot at his 200th win. And winning it on home ice would have been nice. Hell, I’m mad that Miller blew his own shot at his 200th win in front of the home crowd.

If the Sabres are going to stand around and watch the Florida players outwork them in front of Miller, then they are more than willing to come to my living room and stand around and assist me in the wrapping of Christmas presents tomorrow. Better yet, they can go to Wegmans for me. Both will involve copious amounts of standing around. At least with me, they might be useful.

If Crunchy is going to whiff on a couple goals, then fine. He can whiff all he wants, but not on a night when the idiots in front of him don’t give a honk. Whiffing and indifference from the skaters cannot happen on the same night.

Non grievance: I did like the comeback tonight. Too bad it was all for naught.

I hate badly refereed games.

And cliched locker room interviews. Just speak your mind and worry about what the PR guy says later (within reason of course.)

I do not like that there are no Sabres on Twitter. This needs to be rectified immediately. Is it the fact that they have to interact with the fans and pull their heads out of their arses? Is it that they can’t handle the criticism? Is it the fans being “mean” to them? Has the team put a moratorium on usage of The Twitter? I guess I’ll just have to enjoy the witty BizNasty, Bobby Ryan and Joffrey Lupul until the Sabres decide to tweet.

I’m annoyed that ABC is re-running a General Hospital from 2007 tomorrow. Nothing says Merry Freaking Christmas like a shootout. Ho hum.

I’m irked that we’ve wasted time discussing Rex Ryan and his wife’s personal life. More power to them for having frisky time, but don’t put it on YouTube.

I hate that the late, late game (San Jose) from the upcoming road/home/road trip happens after I am back at work. Do you know how difficult it is to do a 10:30pm start when you work the next day?

I’m ticked that Dirty Jobs has been airing clip shows with a few minutes of new footage or some random Mike Rowe popups and has them labeled as “new” episodes.

I’m still angry that in this day and age CBS hasn’t figured out that when they have a 4pm football game, they should move the start of 60 Minutes to at least 7:30 so as not to mess with the DVRs of dedicated Amazing Race fans.

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A Very Sabres Christmas

December 18, 2010

We here at Shots Off the Crossbar accidentally came across several letters submitted to Santa by members of the Sabres organization. I feel that I would not be doing my bloggerly duty if I did not share them with you.

Rip Simonick: My very own episode of Dirty Jobs. Forty years of uniform washing, bag schlepping, skate sharpening and player counseling deserves to be spotlighted, right? There’s nothing dirtier than hockey players.

Paul Gaustad: HONKHONK HONK HONK HONK HONK [illegible with a few peck marks] HONK HONKETY HONK. (Editor’s note: Google translator tells me that this is Goose speak for: “I wish that all the Camp Good Days kids that I baked cookies with win their battles with cancer.” As do I Goose, as do I.)

Patrick Kaleta: I want the Harry Potter Lego Hogwarts Castle. Or any of the Indiana Jones Lego sets. Or the Star Wars ones. (Editor’s note: there’s some scribble on here in a decidedly more grown-up hand about wanting Kaleta to bring his toys with him to avoid him playing with something else. Santa, bring him the legos, please!)

Lindy Ruff: an unlimited gift certificate to Napolis. Or Men’s Wearhouse. It takes a lot of clothing to look this good. And after this many years behind the bench, I think I deserve new duds.

Sabretooth: Pants. Why is it that I can wear pants to the Catwalk for Charity, but I can’t wear pants on game night. Do you know how cold a hockey arena gets?

Tyler Myers: Henrik Tallinder. Reggie is nice and all, but I miss Hank.

Darcy Regier: An owner with an unlimited checkbook. (Editor’s note: Darcy, this one might be coming true sooner than you think.)

Tim Connolly: Hair. I’m tired of the Kojak look. (Editor’s Note: there was more, but it involved references to carpeting and drapery. No one needs to go there.)

Craig Rivet: That I could get back on the ice again. The spirit is willing, Santa, but the body just isn’t what it used to be.

Thomas Vanek: an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Do you know what it’s like to have three kids under the age of 3, including infant twins? I didn’t think so. (Editor’s note: Thomas, you might want to wish this for your wife. You can escape to road games. She can’t.)

Ryan Miller: for the league to film a commercial of a child opening a box containing my jersey on Christmas morning. Why should Ovechkin get all the fun?

Patrick Lalime: to play in a game every now and then. I know that I got to play two whole periods the other night, but Santa, doesn’t Ryan deserve a night off every now and then?

Derek Roy: bedazzled Uggs. Oprah listed them as one of her favorite things. If they’re good enough for the most popular woman in the world, then they’re good enough for me. I think they would be a great addition to my wardrobe. (Editor’s note: Part of me wonders why one would need sparkly Uggs and where one would wear them to, but the other part of me thinks that they are just darling.)

Steve Montador: tickets to this summer’s New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys concert tour. It will be so much fun to be Hanging Tough with the Right Stuff. Just make sure, Santa, that you don’t Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely.

Nathan Gerbe: a goal. Uno goal-o. For the love of everything holy, one freaking goal. I don’t care if it bounces in off a goalie’s ass (Editor’s note: You can’t say “ass” to Santa! *facepalm*), I just want the puck to go in the net and the people to cheer. I’m not asking for much, right?

Mike Grier: to finally score on one of those breakaways that I get every now and again.

Editor’s note: I hope the Sabres get all that they ask for and more. As for me, I’d just settle for the playoffs at this point.

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Miscellaneous Stuff

December 14, 2010

- The Sabres visited Children’s Hospital recently for their annual Christmas visit with the kiddos. (Watch the video here.) There’s several things about this video that are blatantly adorable:

1). Lalime did not cut the tag off his Santa hat.

2). Sabretooth. Because really, when isn’t the cat adorable?

3). Tyler Ennis looked like he was playing the role of Tyler Myers elf.

4). Tim Connolly actually smiled. Like an honest-to-goodness smile, not a “how you doin, meet me later” smirk.

5). Jordan Leopold seemed genuinely affected and happy to be spending time with the kiddos.

- I watched Miller’s episode of The Game 365 on MSG and it was your fairly standard Miller interview. It recapped how he got his start as a kid playing goal (negotiating with his father), how he plays the game (analytical) and his family history with Michigan State. What I thought was interesting was that he admitted that he committed to MSU solely for hockey reasons, that if he would have picked on the academics, he might not have been a Spartan. MSU didn’t have the types of programs he’s interested in like architecture and others. Don’t get him wrong, he’s proud of his MSU business degree, but the school choice was solely based on hockey.

What else? The lockout helped his career in that he got to spend the full season in the NHL playing solid hockey with a lot of great young players. He discussed his stance changes from college to the pros (almost fully upright in college, but more of an athletic focus and wider stance in the pros).

Also interesting was the interviewer’s (Fran Healy) attempt to compare hockey goaltending to catching in baseball. Miller disabuses that notion, as the pitcher is intentionally trying to get the ball to a catcher, while in hockey a shooter is trying to get the puck past a goalie. I know Healy is a baseball guy, but this question seemed almost like a “duh” on the “of course, they’re different” scale.

Regarding the Olympics, they were a lot of fun, but a balancing act afterwards, as he had to juggle his professional commitments versus his “media” star obligations. I’m sure going from the glare of the Buffalo media (such as it is) to the glare of the national media has to have been quite the adjustment for the goaltender. It’s not every day that he gets asked to shoot photos for Vanity Fair, you know? It’s a long way from interviews with Channels 2, 4 & 7.

- Last week, WNED showed a retrospective of Buffalo broadcasting’s glory days. I watched it with my parents and cannot believe that back in the day kids were entertained by a gentleman wearing a cardboard box and calling himself a “robot.” The retrospective is also worth watching just for the 70s fashions alone.

- Thanks to a link on Twitter, I watched the Misery Bear Christmas video.

I’m sitting here alternating between laughing and crying, and wanting to go get my old teddy bear out of the closet and give him a great big hug. I’m sure the range of emotions generated are probably what makes the video so effective.

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Fans = Goldfish?

December 11, 2010

Sports fans have been called many things before, but this MediaPost commentary adds a new label to the list: goldfish. That’s right. Apparently, when it comes to forgiving athletes after off-field indiscretions, we as fans can forgive an athlete of practically anything, provided they excel on the field.

I wouldn’t quite go that far. In my opinion, there’s a slight difference between what Tiger Woods & Tony Parker have done versus what Michael Vick has done. Tiger and Parker were just stupid, cheating on their wives and basically destroying their marriages. Personal stupidity can be overlooked. I can overlook Michael Phelps getting caught with a bong, because it’s so “normal.” I can overlook Plaxico Burress damn near shooting his own bits off in a club because that’s just stupidity run amok. In any of these situations, personal poor choices does not have anything to do with how I view them on the field.

No matter how he performs on the field, I cannot overlook what Michael Vick did. I know many people that can’t either. The dude used and abused dogs. That’s just not right. Sure, he did his time and repented, but still, he was a dog killer. I can’t forgive that, and I’m not even a dog owner. (I am a dog person, though.)

And really, Vick’s hope of having fans forget what he did isn’t helped by inadvertent graphics like this one that showed up on a Sunday night game earlier this season:

So erm, yea. Fans aren’t goldfish. We just learn to distinguish between personal stupidity that doesn’t really affect others, and the stupidity that just leads to completely abhorrent things.

I promise that hockey content will return in some way soon, even though I won’t get to see the next two games due to work functions. Go Sabres!

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Best. Game. Ever.

December 3, 2010

Tonight’s Columbus vs. Buffalo game was the first Sabres game I attended in two years. I made a comment on Twitter earlier today that if the Sabres played like a lackadaisical bunch of sots tonight that I would have no choice but to pull out the Keyboard of Fury. Well, I’m pleased to report that the Keyboard of Fury has been put away for the night in favor of the Keyboard of Awesomeness and Goal Scoring.

My seats tonight were three rows from the top of the arena on the bench side, so I had a fantastic view of the action. I love the new Columbus sweaters, but for some reason, the blue doesn’t translate well on the ice. It appears black to the naked eye from a high vantage point. I did like the nice touch of the Sabres using the cannon emblem for the Blue Jackets on the scoreboard rather than the team’s traditional logo. And I really loved that the Sabres were wearing white sweaters on home ice. Can we please, please, please go back to that? Both teams had a very Olde Tyme Hockey feel to their look tonight and I liked it.

Anyway, sitting in the row immediately behind us were two boys about eight years old who were attending their first hockey game. They were adorable until the blimp showed up in the second intermission and they started howling about wanting pie. Let’s just say that the “adorable” turned to “obnoxious” REAL quick. Seated behind them were two girls who spent the whole game yelling “Let’s Go Buffalo” and managing to rhyme it with something about a rock & roll. I dunno, they were having fun. However, the crash from their sugar high was bound to be painful tonight.

Onto the on-ice action. Who the heck were those people on the ice tonight and can we have them show up every night? My god, the physicality. Can we please sign Cody McCormick to an extension, like now? Dude took care of Commodore for going after Kaleta. I had a feeling that once the response to Commodore’s hit was delayed, that our usual bunch of softies would show up, but was surprised to see old Pepper Grinder taking care of his boy and exercising a little frontier justice for Kaleta.

Montador wasn’t too impressive in his fight, but he tried. Bless his heart. He can still come sit by me anytime.

Moving on, for the second game in the last three, Patrick Kaleta engaged an opposing player in an actual fight. And again, Kaleta acquitted himself quite nicely. He also riled up the crowd afterward, which apparently, the Columbus bench wasn’t too happy about. If Kaleta were on any other team, I would hate him. But as a Buffalo fan, I embrace his d-bagness. He may have a d-bag playing style, but darn it all, he’s our d-bag.

There were two sickening thuds from players colliding into the boards in the third period. The first occurred when Stafford took out Garon and the goalie’s head bounced off the boards. However, the goalie was a tough nut and returned to the game. The second sickening thud occurred when Boll elbowed Morrisson’s head right into the glass. I have a feeling that Boll will be getting a call from those in the league office to discuss that little play. I did notice Lalime gesticulating madly at someone or something during the ensuing discussion of the penalty for Boll’s hit. I’d love to know what was he was engaged with to warrant that kind of reaction.

Speaking of Lalime, he’s really quite the little busy bee on the bench. He’s got that door opening thing down to an art and he collects old sticks and hands out new ones just as well as soccer moms hand out orange slices and sports drink. To think that the team pays him $600,000 for that. (Oh, you mean he’s supposed to play goal, too?) I know, I know, he’s Chief Morale Officer, Goalie Division for the Sabres and that’s his value.

And speaking of goal, how nice was it for Ryan Miller to finally get a shutout and not a “Ryan Miller Shutout?” Miller really didn’t have too difficult of a night, with the small exception of him getting dumped on his arse in the second period. At least the refs were smart enough to waive off that goal. I could see the arena flipping out if they had let it stand.

It was nice to see Stafford bounce back from his shoulder injury tonight with a goal and an assist. Vanek had a three point night and Pommers, that sneaky little thing, increased the population of Pominville in one fell swoop. If these three gentlemen – and wee Tyler Ennis – continue their scoring touch, this team might just turn around. Might. With a capital M. I know these guys will soon return their heads to their arses and forget how to score, but I will enjoy tonight for what it was.

During the second intermission, there was quite the coffee klatch going on in the press box on the left hand side (press box right, if you were in the box). I was trying to figure out what was going on: cookie delivery, Darcy finally trading Timmy for that 10-pound catfish,new scoop on the new owner, but the klatch broke up reasonably quickly.

I did get a giggle from the nice young ladies that were shown on the Jumbotron holding a sign that says “Sabres Hit It.” While I would hope they were innocently referring to the action on the ice, for the love of everything holy, that sign has quite the puckbunny subtext, does it not?

And what was up with the groups of young boys taking their shirts off and waiving them around for Jumbotron time?

And now to show my crankypants side, the nice lady sitting next to me spent the entire game texting. While she had a thorough knowledge of the game and of the team, it was incredibly annoying to see her phone attached to her like an appendage all night. If you pay $60 something dollars for a seat to watch the game, why not do something outrageous and watch the game. It’s annoying to those sitting next to you when your fingers are flying away all type-y type-y and your phone is beeping incessantly. And get off my lawn while you’re at it.

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