Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's Retrospective Time!

Yesterday may have been the worst day I've ever experienced as a Bills and Sabres fan in terms of combined disgust.

First comes the news of Coach "I lost the challenge flag" Jauron's continued employment. Then, we all get to witness that spectacular display of team apathy and heartlessness by the Sabres. I usually call upon Lindy after games like this to run them into the ground, but I don't think he can do much else with this bunch of divas.

As my father said this morning, I don't want Nate to go back to Portland, but maybe it's better so he doesn't learn bad habits from these players any more than he already has.

So....Now that the ranting is over, I am going to try to be the ray of sunshine after the multiple natural sports disasters that came last night.

My favorite part of New Year's Eve is the year-end, retrospective lists. Therefore, I have decided to combine my love of countdowns with my need for a pick-me-up.

I present you with My Favorite Buffalo Sports Moments of 2008:

10.) The Sabres Signings of Summer '08. Tim Kennedy. Chris Butler. Nate Gerbe. Danny Paille. Paul Gaustad. Jason Pominville. Ryan Miller. Patrick Lalime. Craig Rivet. After the previous summer and the departure of Brian Campbell in February, it was nice to see the Sabres adding people rather than letting people go. Each of these players has contributed to the team this season, some (Craig Rivet) more than others (Tim Kennedy). Some signings made me happy for personal reasons (Goose and Gerbe) while others made a strong statement to the entire NHL (Miller). All in all, it was nice to be happy every time I heard Darcy this summer rather than holding back tears like the year before.

9.) Craig Rivet's First Game at HSBC Arena. There were many nice things about the Sabres preseason victory over the Leafs. It was my little cousin's first NHL game, and I got to be the one to take her. We got to see the boys looking all spiffy in their suits on the red carpet. The Sabres pulled off another improbable comeback to force overtime and beat a heated rival, even if it was only in the preseason. The best thing about this game, however, was its status as Craig Rivet's coming out party. Rivet pounded Ryan Hollweg into oblivion for grazing Ryan Miller, and the entire crowd seemed to fall in love at first sight. That one act said volumes in the locker room as well, with Rivet finally ending the rotating captaincy by being named permanent leader.

8.) The Buffalo Bills Beat the San Diego Chargers 23-14 and Improve to 5-1. At the time, I thought that this game was our "statement game." Trent was recovering from being knocked out of the game against Arizona, the first loss of the season. Then, the Bills delivered this complete win over a team that, while struggling, still had a reputation as an AFC powerhouse. With the win, the team improved to an impressive 5-1 record, and that was the last time I felt really good about football in Buffalo in 2008.

7.) Pat Kane Wins Calder Trophy. It's always nice to see a hometown kid succeed, especially one who doesn't forget where he comes from. Moving from a little kid playing in rinks in South Buffalo and West Seneca to owning opponents from Carolina to Edmonton, Patrick Kane has become a household name in more places than Western New York. To see him recognized as the Rookie of the Year was a proud moment for anyone from WNY. It was especially touching when he thanked the people of Buffalo for supporting him because it showed that little Kaner really hasn't forgotten his roots. I can't wait to see even more big things from him in 2009 - as long as it's not against the Sabres, of course.

6.) The Two Sabres Comebacks Vs. the Lightning. In a season lacking special moments, these two games provided Sabres fans with something to cheer about. I was at the arena for the first of these two games, both led by hat tricks from Thomas Vanek. In a 4-3 OT victory, Vanek scored three consecutive goals to cap a furious late-game comeback, including his first two only 36 seconds apart at the end of the third period. The second comeback may be my favorite game of last season. Losing 4-1 going into the third, Paul Gausatd and Jason Pominville began a scoring avalanche that would produce 6 third period goals, including three by Vanek once again. Yes, I know it was against Tampa, but thinking about those two games still makes me smile, and on a day like today, smiling is certainly needed.

5.) The 2008 Bills Season Opener (Bills 34, Seahawks 10). Remember when the whole football world was at our fingertips and the AFC East seemed to be ours for the taking? Yeah, I barely do, too, but what a great feeling it was. Trent was the next Jim Kelly. We played smashmouth defense. We called trick plays. Tom Brady was hurt and then suddenly it was like the heavens opened up on One Bills Drive. I know that nothing can ease the pain that the rest of the season brought, but it is nice to remember that, for just one day, the Bills were able to pleasantly surprise us.

4.) The Buffalo Sabres Season Opener (Sabres 2, Canadiens 1, SO). Remember when the Sabres earned points in their first 8 games, looking like they had exorcised all of the demons of last season? Yeah, I barely do, too, but it did happen and was lots of fun to watch. They played Lindy's system to perfection, cleared the net for Ryan, and took the ice with heart, grit, and a chip on their shoulders. I can only hope that this memory sticks with them too because they need to find that team again in order to make 2009 a better year than 2008 for Sabres fans.

3.) The 2008 Winter Classic / Ice Bowl. I know, I know - we lost to Sidney Crosby in a shootout. Still, though, when you look back on that day, is that one of the first things you remember? I'm thinking it's not. What I'll remember is the sight of over 70,000 fans watching a hockey game all in one place, the sight of Ralph Wilson Stadium looking like a Christmas card, with flakes softly falling like a snowglobe. I'll remember tearing up when Ronan Tynan sang, and, for one day, I knew that people around the world were getting to see what I've learned every day - that Buffalo is a truly amazing place.

2.) The Buffalo Bandits Win the NLL Championship. Finally - a championship comes to Buffalo! It may not have been in the way we expected, but the Bandits made Buffalo the home of a champion. NLL fans are some of the most intense in pro sports, and it was great to see the members of "Banditland" rewarded for their passion. I have season tickets this year, and I can't wait to cheer them on to a repeat!

1.) The Entire 2008 Season of UB Bulls Football. From the Hail Mary pass to the MAC Championship, it's been an amazing ride for anyone who has watched the Bulls this season. What Turner Gill has done is nothing shot of miraculous, and I could not respect a coach more than I respect him. I'll admit that I am not the biggest college football fan, but this team sucked me in, and I am so glad that they did. Turner Gill gave Buffalo a team that we can proud of, a group that is as blue-collar as they come. They play with heart, grit, and boundless determination, just like their coach. I can only hope that 2009 starts where 2008 left off, with a character- driven group of underdogs proving everyone but themselves wrong.

I hope everyone has a very safe and happy New Year's Eve and New Year's Day! Feel free to share your list of favorite moments with me, too, I'd love to hear what I'm sure I missed.


M.J. said...


Katie said...


Thanks, M.J.! I hope you're enjoying the holiday, too!

maicher said...

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