Back From the Lake

by Ryan

I’m worried about my relationship with the Sabres.

Hockey is back tonight, and I’m not sure how things are going to go this year. I think Chris did a great job previewing the Sabres this season and we share a lot of the same thoughts, but I’m not sure how this hockey season is going to go for me.

I’ve been thinking about hockey a lot more than I’ve been writing about it. Over the summer I wanted to talk about it quite a bit, but for one reason or another I held off. Some things spoke for themselves, and while there were things to talk about I never had much to say. Days became weeks, and the Roost went pretty dark for some time.

In the boyhood romance that is my relationship with hockey, I went away to summer camp to make new friends while my old flame waited for my return. We wrote letters to each other and I got to play here and there, but we both knew the day I got back was when the Sabres came back.

That happens tonight, but I think it’s pretty clear that some things have changed. If there was one thing that could keep me going over a hockey-less summer it was playing hockey, but I sprained my ankle over a month ago and haven’t seen a pair of skates since.

I think it was Mendola’s post about his day at NU camp that got me really thinking about hockey again. I was actually asked to participate in that camp through my new job, but my ankle wasn’t ready to roll just yet.

Still, the very fact that I was allowed to do something like that shows just how different things are. I have a very hard time thinking of myself as “media” in the first place, am I really a media member? Will I start doing all those things we make fun of the media for? Is this the end of the “Petty Responses that Only Bloggers Can Give” tag?

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. It’s demanding at times but something I’ve always wanted to do, and I’m extremely lucky to even have a job. I’m trying hard not to take anything for granted, and I don’t have many complaints about what I do.

This isn’t a post about my identity crisis as a fan, either. I don’t cover the Sabres, and even if I did it wouldn’t change what I thought about the team very much. I like hockey, I like watching the Sabres and I’m pretty sure I could handle writing about hockey. That’s not the problem.

What is the problem is that this year the way I watch the Sabres will be very different. While Miller and Vanek and Myers get their first real game action in Kanata tonight, I’ll be covering a high school football game in Lewiston.

At home an HD recording of the game will be saved on a hard drive, and I’ll catch up sometime after Friday night becomes Saturday morning. The same thing will happen on Saturday night, and almost every weekday this season. I work “late nights” these days, and while it’s perfect for my insomnia, a full time job will put a strain on my hockey schedule.

My intake of live hockey will be in glimpses and turned heads, hearing Rick and Harry’s play-by-play while I type. The full story will have to wait until later, sometime after deadline.

This is okay, but it is admittedly different. I don’t have a mini pack and I won’t be at the arena as much this season. I won’t have time for three posts a day. Like the boy that returns from summer camp, I have other things (mostly high school sports) on my mind and foreign things to talk about.

It’s going to be… different, and different is enough to make me a bit worried. I can handle watching hockey games on tape delay. In fact, I’ll revel in the ability to watch them more than once, but watching a game live is part of the fun.

I worry that I’ll miss out, that I’m growing up and all that Peter Pan garbage twenty-somethings worry about when they get a big boy job. Are my friends having more fun than me? Where did all of my money go? Why can’t I find decent pair of permanent press pants anywhere in this Goddamn city?

Somehow, deep down, I know things will be okay. I am genuinely excited for hockey to be back, just like I was when football started. I still get to learn about soccer through Arsenal and manage to be a Bills fan, and hockey has always been special to me. Hockey is different. It started my real long distance relationship that has recently dropped the first two words. Things change, sometimes for the better.

Unlike the boy who returns from summer camp, my feelings towards hockey (and sports in general) have not changed. I am not above the game, I am a part of it and it is a part of me.

Nick Hornsby wrote in Fever Pitch that watching soccer was not about having a hobby or “something to do.” Rather, it is a part of his life, part of the fabric of his being.

…it is not an escape, or a form of entertainment, but a different view of the world…
– Fever Pitch, pg. 164

A different view of the world. When I was young sports were a fascination that became a way to make friends in high school. Now it’s a way to make a living, but my love of sports hasn’t changed. The lens may have shifted, but the reasons I watch hockey will always be the same.

So while I may worry, deep down I know that everything will be just fine. The next six months of my life will be very interesting, but no matter what happens there will be hockey.

It’s good to be home.

One Comment

  1. Great post, sometimes you have to reconnect after time apart to truly get amped, finding ways to make it go. I started ushering and watching the two preseason games has me cranked up for opening night. It’s fun to rediscover. I think we all shut the door after the playoff loss, but it flew off its hinges with Thomas Vanek being quoted as “We sucked in the playoffs.” It was said with enough swagger that hopefully the team has recovered from Drury/Briere at long last.