I missed pretty much everything tonight. Jon went to see the Yankees play the Sox at the Stadium, and I worked all night. I missed five games and really have nothing to say about any of them, which really bothers me. Something has been left unsaid about last night, though, so here it goes.
What is it about this photo that is so ridiculously enjoyable? I’ve been thinking about it all day, and I’m pretty sure the best part of that shot is that we know exactly how it feels.
Don’t you absolutely f–king hate that Chrysler commercial? You know the one, with the bridge from “Better Days” playing while nice looking cars roll by on pristine city streets? As a Sabres fan, hasn’t that song been murdered by the results of last season? For me that Goo Goo Dolls’ song brings up an emotion I’m still not sure how to handle, and I really don’t need to have that stirred up while I’m watching playoff hockey.
Not being in the playoffs sucks, there is no other way to put it. We missed the majority of the blogger playoff party last year and this year we never had the chance. I get insanely jealous reading sites with teams in the postseason, and I can’t help but envy the excitement that is generated in a hockey rink this time of year. (God I miss those crowds…)
Still, it seems that my enjoyment of the playoffs thus far has been focused on the failure of other teams. What made the collapse of the Senators fantastic was that they had such great expectations and fell so far short of them. After last year’s Finals appearance and their subsequent start to this season there was no question this team would do great things. There were talks of record high point totals and “best ever” tags were thrown around.
Before you know it, Brian Murray is behind the bench again and guys like Cody Bass and Brian Lee are letting Rutuu score soft goals in must win games. Seriously, does anyone know what happened to this team?
If the last two paragraphs seem a bit familiar, well, welcome to Sabres hockey. I still haven’t found the proper words for how far this team has regressed in the span of a calender year, and it sure feels like fans in Ottawa will be doing the same thing over the summer.
The sick thing about all this is that I love it.
There is something about watching a team die the slow, familiar death of underachiving that just fills my heart with joy. Because the pain of an early exit is still so fresh, I want anyone even close to that position suffer along with us. Somehow knowing we are not alone in failure makes me feel slightly better about how things shook out. As awful as it sounds, watching good teams lose is just fun.
The other side of the coin is that we get to root for the “underdog”, one of the most fun aspects of fandom. Watching that crowd go bezerk in Calgary or the two games in Nashville this week are what being a sports fan is all about. Put aside personal vendettas and rivalries, watching people get excited about the game really is an uplifting experience.
That picture is what hockey is all about. Forget the contrived gesture the Rangers pull after every game, a spontaneous thank you between a crowd and team that everyone left for dead over the summer is something truly remarkable. No matter what happens tomorrow for Game Five, the Predators have fed off that crowd and proved that maybe hockey can work in Nashville after all.
I guess my point is that I’m sick of rooting against teams I don’t like and players I want to forget. I want to root for teams. Nashville, Pittsburgh, Calgary, even Washington. I want to see these teams do well for their own good, not for the malcontent I have for their opponent.
Still, it’s hard to forget the feeling of leaving that arena in silence last year. That feeling has burrowed deep into my skull and makes me want to set the world on fire at times. That part of my brain longs for Schadenfreude and snarky comments about former captains. This spring I’m trying hard to forget that part of my brain.
I can’t make any promises.