Let me start by saying that I love what dear old Scizz wrote the other night. I cued this piece of mine up by promising a rebuttal on Twitter, but really the only thing that guaranteed was that I'd actually write something, and not that I'd sit down with the intention of tearing Scizzer a new asshole. Besides, it was I that started the heckles for Miller the other night; I who have relentlessly criticized similar behavior of other Sabres fans from time to time. Fact is, I was drunk, I had busted my ass to organize a trip out to the Island for this game, and I was pissed. Miller pulled it out in the end, and provided me with another reason to sit down and be honest, just like my compatriot.
Sensible or not, I just keep coming back, and for now I'm not interested in doing too much griping. Call me a masochist, as if that weren't already clear from my friendship with Yachtsman and his tendency to say I have a rapey face, but the irrationality of my ever-optimistic watchfulness is simply of no moment. The heart wants what it wants.
I'm certainly not alone in my willingness to keep coming back for more, nor am I the only one who realizes that this willingness is both pathetic and disturbingly reminiscent of the insanity of doing the same thing night after night, year after year, and expecting a different result. Yet here I am. Here I am, in the wake of another Sabres game in another disappointing season, scouring the NHL standings and letting my hopeful fantasies take root in my subconscious. Here I am wondering if this team can give us a magical run again, daring to dream that they might take it a step further and find a miracle to push them to the Promised Land.
Looking at the objective facts, I'm confident that I'm not COMPLETELY insane, since this team has done an apparent 180 in terms of effort and efficacy. This team is suddenly playing inspired, quality hockey, when they had previously resembled an assembled mass of neutered rabbits in heat - excited and willing to perform, but simply shooting blanks.
Nothing breaks up the pathetic tension of an overstated and overwritten piece such as this quite like bunny-love. Ride that train, silly rabbits.
Shifting back into focus.... Almost there.... Holding back a dick joke.... Ok. I'm back.
A few weeks back, when killing time during a deposition and trying to stay awake so that I could object every few minutes (I'm GREAT at my job), I scribbled a few lines about how I was feeling as we were all knee-deep in Sabres suckitude. It wasn't necessarily any good, what I wrote, and I'm pretty sure there is actually a page missing from my little scratch pad that might have provided more context, but either way it still sums up a little bit of how I think we all may be feeling these days as we recover from another shitty Bills season and shift back and forth between hope and dread regarding the Sabres' season still unfolding.
There is, no doubt, a risk that any of my chosen "treatises on fandom," as some might call it, can overstate the emotional component of all of this. But, on the other hand, given the kind of joy and pains we all feel, sometimes with inexplicable depth, there is also a risk of understating the emotional import of watching our teams succeed and, more often than not, fail.
Indeed, casually ignoring the kind of regret and frustration I experience when watching these recent epic failures does me no good. As much as I want to rise above and pretend that I have the ability to ignore this all and say "it doesn't matter" (because, in an ideal world, it certainly would not), my highs and lows of fandom belie the fact that such an approach would be an enormous cop out. Nothing more than a face-saving maneuver. If you're able to detach yourself from these teams with even a shred of credibility, bless you. You are a better and more sane person than I.
Part of me regrets, to an extent, not having taken a better stab at exploring my thoughts at the time. Embroiled in preparation for a three day trial that wrapped up this week, perhaps it's for the best that I didn't sit down and subject all of you to a cathartic and depressing mess of what would probably have been little more than whining. Even so, now that the Sabres have bounced back among the living, that regretful part of me is left to wonder how I got back to a place where watching every game suddenly matters so much again. Of course, I didn't get there on my own and, for better or worse, the Sabres have apparently transformed themselves back into the team we saw open the season in Europe. Or, at least they're certainly closer to that than they are to the team that had more recently been tripping over themselves to find new and embarrassing ways to lose.
What of this team, then? Are they playing us for suckers again? Or is this another sign of progress towards that ultimate goal under Pegula? The great thing about it is that we don't know and can only guess as a way to feel more in control, more grounded in what we see as the likely realities.
As for me, I'm going to enjoy letting all of this play out while I keep a sunny disposition. The Sabres have come from two goal deficits twice in the last week to win in a shootout. Miller is playing inspired hockey again, having shutout the Rags in regulation, only to blank the Bruins a couple games later. Suddenly Ville Leino - of the bunny sex orgy seen above - is producing in a way that we all hoped he would when he was signed (did you all see those passes the other night vs Boston? WHAAA??), but had failed miserably to through most of the season. And with pieces getting healthy and gelling at both ends of the rink, there's simply no reason not to be optimistic about what's down the road for this group.
Sure, there will probably be plenty more painful moments this season, and maybe the cynics are right and the franchise should be blowing itself up to start from scratch. If given a choice, though, I'd prefer to watch winning hockey now, and that's what been delivered to me - against some of the better teams in the league, mind you - over the last couple weeks. With reports that Lindy and Darcy are probably not out the door as quickly as some of us - myself included - would like, this is the best we're going to get, and it isn't all bad. It may be the start of something big, it may not. But I'm sure as hell going to keep my eyes on this team as they try to prove us all wrong yet again.
Let's Go Buffalo.