While certainly not the one we would have wanted, a big drought ended in the NHL last night as the Kings hoisted the Stanley Cup and celebrated a Championship. A few months back, friend of the Deeg, @CriminallyVu1gar
(sometimes NSFW, fyi), suggested that his playoff allegiances were somewhat shaped by a general feeling that any long-suffering fan base should not see their team succeed before we Sabres fans see ours do the same. I believe his words were "why would I want your shitdick franchise to win a Cup before our shitdick franchise?" Using that kind of philosophy as a guide, Sabres fans should have been pulling for the Devils last night. A Devils series win would have ensured that Sabreland wouldn't lose a companion in the "we have nothing to hang our hat on" category. Lacking an end to the sentence "Sure we lost, but at least we won back in ..." is a miserable place to be in, and misery loves company.
Of course, there are likely many fans who don't follow hockey with that kind of absurd neurosis. I am jealous of those people.
When I think about a Sabres Stanley Cup, the pure fantasy of it is always apparent, since it has never happened and, if we're being honest, seems to be as far away as ever after the season the team just had. Yet, even in the fantasy, it's a battle. It's heart-wrenching hockey night after night, with defeat always seemingly balanced on a precipice, ready to pull the team back to reality. Reality being that place where good things never happen and we are drowned in sorrow. The fantasy for our Sabres, guided by what we know to be true about their identity and our identity as fans, is necessarily grounded by the feeling that it simply isn't meant to be and that it will take a series of miracles to bring a championship to Buffalo. Our apprehensiveness guided by our history of observing failure year after year.The Cup run is thus a scary thought, in the end, since it would inevitably bring with it loads of frustration and worry.
But that kind of brutal journey I just described - that's not what happened with the Kings over these past couple months. And that's where I can find a little silver lining for my own personal purposes.
For the Kings, and their small but long-suffering fan base, last night was a monkey off their backs. Seemingly finished with the post-lockout rebuild, which gave them early draftees Kopitar, Quick and Doughty, not to mention the more recent blue chip FA signings, this is a team that surprisingly struggled through the 2011-12 season only to squeak into the playoffs as an 8 seed. But, rather than fight tooth and nail to get past their higher ranked opponents, the Kings coasted through the West and posted a 3-0 lead against the Devils that ultimately proved insurmountable. As it turned out, after all those years of suffering, Kings fans were allowed to breathe easy during the run. Never at risk of elimination, they simply played better than everyone else and didn't need those miracles to succeed. The only thing left to pray for, in the end, was that the whole thing wasn't some cruel dream, since - after 45 years - it must have seemed just that.
Ultimately, I know that last night's result - the 8th seed doing the unthinkable, and with ease - has little bearing on what to expect for the Sabres or any other hockey club moving forward. Playoff position and home-ice advantage is still a big benefit in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and 8th seeded teams rarely make it past the first round, much less to the 4th. But, looking at a franchise and its fans breathe one big sigh of relief, while also knowing the apparent ease with which they were able to put together the 16 wins necessary to win that Cup, I find something about which to take heart. Even when history seems to be set against you, that successful championship run might not require that miracle after all.
Let's Go Buffalo.
It sure has been a while since I dusted off my gloves and took the media to task for its latest absurdity in the sports world. Sometimes, these venomous hit jobs are directed at The Network - an easy enough target, what with the willingness to sit on apparent evidence of child molestation at Syracuse, only to run the story without even giving the authorities the opportunity to vet that evidence and find that, in sum, it was demonstrably false. And sometimes, these hit jobs are directed at Buffalo sports media - also an easy target, what with the spelling errors, the apparent desire to merely yuk it up with a failing, entrenched hockey coach and the pathetic derision of a blogger community which has arguably provided better and more insightful sports analysis over the past couple years. (Not here at the Deeg, of course. We are more than happy to be the slime scraped out of the bottom of the barrel, presented as food for your more carnal cravings. It's what we do.)
One of the things I've noticed about Buffalo sports fans is that they can tend to believe that their town is getting jobbed at every opportunity. It's certainly no surprise, given the history, but it can leave people with a lingering sense that, in essence, whatever we get in Buffalo is a class below what everyone else gets in other cities. Sports teams? Inferior from top to bottom. Local theater and music? Undeveloped and of poor quality. Government? Corrupt and ineffective in a way unseen throughout America. Schools? Underfunded and forgotten. Cheerleaders? Sixes instead of tens. (This one may be right).
Some of this is true. In many ways, other cities do have it better. In a lot of ways, though, Buffalo has the exact same problems as other cities, but has convinced itself that the grass is greener in New York City, in Boston, in D.C., in Philly. I've found this to be especially true when it comes to how we digest our local sports media in Western New York. There always seems to be a lingering sense that Bucky and Harrington and Hamilton and Sully are on a lower tier than the guys who cover sports in the big markets. With the internet, though, we can verify that this is simply not true, and never was this more apparent to me than during the post-game presser following last Friday's Rangers-Devils Game 6.
Dear God, it was brutal.
So, in keeping with the overlap between "media hit piece" and "mailing it in," here is the transcript of the questions asked to Rangers coach John Tortorella following Game 6. My thoughts are in italics.
Now it's a party
After a few well deserved weeks off from podcasting together, the Deeg triumphantly return with episode 27 of the CrapTastiCast. We all gathered on a Sunday afternoon to watch playoff hockey and the NBA from the Apologist’s apartment, while drinking an extraordinary amount of bloody mary's. Joining us was past guest (and Aps’ roommate), “The Pink Elephant”, as we chatted about adoption, Raffi Torres, violence in the NHL, the Buffalo Bills' draft needs, and of course, high school yearbook quotes. The Yachtsman (aka Boat Shoes) also attempts to explain how and why he used to be an enormous New York Yankees fan, which leads to a fairly normal conversation about baseball. Shocking, we know.
We almost lost the file, so apologies if there seem to be some sudden cuts. Putting this back together was not easy, but we think it came together nicely.
Musical interludes are from Pearl Jam, Queen, and Rod Stewart this week.
Download from Libsyn right here
or itunes below. Or, as always stream from that sexy little streamer below. Get at it, dog.