The Cone of Silence

by Ryan

It’s 11:49 PM and “We Don’t Get Fooled Again” just started playing at HSBC Arena.


I know what you are thinking, and it includes an expletive. This is understandable, so let me explain. This is a little thing we in the Roost call the “Cone of Silence.” No, not this Cone of Silence. We didn’t know that thing existed until recently, but in hindsight it can become the same thing at times.

The “Cone of Silence” means that somehow, someway, we can’t watch the game. It could be anything, but somehow we can’t get to a tv by gametime and the VCR/DVR will be set. What that means in turn is that until we get to that tv we want absolutely nothing to do with hockey.

It’s an interesting proposition, isn’t it? If there is anything I classify myself as it is a sports fan, yet at the very moment I should be most concerned with sports I try at all costs to avoid it. It isn’t that I am a bad fan, if anything it is the exact opposite. At the risk of looking like a crazy-person, I try to give myself the best possible viewing of it: live.

Let’s be honest: repeats suck, especially if it’s a crappy show. Unless you are witnessing something epic you aren’t interested in seeing a show you already know the ending of. So when you get the final score 4-0 Ottawa sometimes you just don’t want to sit through carnage. Instead, you get to watch the whole thing in “real time,” reacting to each and every save as if only an eight second f-bomb delay is keeping you from live tv.

The first time I had seen something similar to this was in book Wait ‘Till Next Year. In it the co-author William Goldman avoided the score of the Mets game because he couldn’t see the entire game start to finish. In his mind it was just a simple superstition, but to me it was exactly what the “Cone of Silence” is all about. This was a big moment for me because I realized that I wasn’t alone in doing this. Sure, I may still be crazy, but this guy was successful and even had a family! I had hope!


The name comes from the hurricane jargon of a well developed storm’s “eye”. While inside the center of that eye things are peaceful and calm, it is surrounded by the worst, most intense parts of the storm. The same idea applies to our attempt at scoreboard ignorance. While outside of our awareness is a sea of scoring chances and saves, we remain calm within an eerie, unnatural stillness. As poetic as that sounds, it is usually anything but calm.

You see, much like the “Get Smart” version, the “Cone of Silence” has its pitfalls. The majority of those problems come from text messages. In fact, after a few disastrous text message episodes we’ve begun warning each other before the start of the game, just so we know who to talk to. On nights when you just can’t watch a game, a simple mass text with the word “Cone” in it is all you require.

It isn’t always that easy, though. Radio stations, ESPN Bottomlines, word of mouth, and pure stupidity can always get in the way. Let’s just say that if you want to try this sometime, make sure you don’t have many vindictive friends. I’ve had cones ruined by chatty movie theatre patrons, someone screaming updates at a concert, and a stranger telling me because they “ just thought you wanted to know.” Thank you, sir.

Still, it really is worth the hassle. Even when a game is a loss, I feel much better about the fact that I watched and really got to dissect the loss. Most fans don’t want to watch losses, but I want to see where this team went wrong and try to get a better understanding of how it can be fixed. To be honest, if I knew the score I may not watch these games and possibly miss out on the secret to life or something. Plus, you never know when your encyclopedic knowledge of every second of Sabres hockey will come in handy, right?

Although I am the “inventor” of this whole thing within my friends, I’m certainly not the only one that does it. In fact, Jon is the owner of the longest and most prestigious “Cone of Silence”, spanning a few hundred miles and 48 hours of elapsed time. The tragic part of that cone was that he was so exhausted from travel he fell asleep while watching the game and ruined it for himself. When he woke up, the final score (3-1 Detroit) was flashing on the screen.

The point of this post? We are freaking crazy, but sometimes it all makes sense.

(See next post for that evidence)


  1. dave in Rocha

    My wife doesn’t understand this at all. If I hear of the score while out, I just can’t watch the game. Period. She thinks I’m nuts.

    Last Saturday while at the RIT game I thought I heard a guy in the next section, right after getting of his cell phone, tell his kids that Tallinder got an empty-netter. Since he was kind of far away and I wasn’t sure of it I allowed myself to watch the game when I got home, but I couldn’t really enjoy it. The whole time I was just waiting for them to take a lead into the final few minutes so Hank could get his goal. All the tension when the Leafs tied it never happened. All the excitement about seeing Hank get his first was gone. The only things that were interesting were A) just how big a lead they had and B) just how far away Hank was when he scored.

    As for how the cone can be breached, that is exactly why I won’t answer the phone or check texts until I see it. Screw ’em, if it’s important enough they’ll leave a message or call back. And if the text is important enough, well, they shouldn’t be texting if it’s that important.

  2. Anonymous

    remember the time we were at shea’s, and those awful ladies were ruining the game even after you said what was going on?

    …maybe we should’ve killed them.

    just kidding.

    …you know, I still love watching Jimmy Fallon cover his ears at dinner in Fever Pitch, no matter how much you hate that movie.

  3. Ryan


    Glad to see I’m not the only one. Show your wife the post, you are not crazy. But you’re absolutely right, when you know even something small about the game it takes all the fun out of it.


    We should have killed them. They ruined game 6 of last year’s east semis for me, even if your phone ruins everything for you these days…

    Also, Jimmy stole that from Goldman…

  4. Ian

    I’m not alone!

  5. brian s.

    The last time I had to do this was, unfortunately, the Bills – Titans playoff game in 1999. “Homerun Throwback.” And my college track team who watched the game with me all knew the ending and when it happened were staring at me waiting for my reaction. Stunned silence followed by me walking out of the room while they all laughed and rubbed it in.

    Since then I have lived outside of Buffalo and don’t have the benefit of Center Ice or DVR and rely mostly on the radio broadcast or texts from my sister if I happen to be out. Not nearly the same as watching it, but I still have that jittery feeling until I know the final score.