It’s Complicated

The Sabres are celebrating a road win by taking a week off. That seems a bit excessive.

Nuance is clearly not a strong suit for this team, so perhaps I’m being too hard on them. They don’t do anything without piling on. Huge salaries, epic losing streaks and big-time meltdowns; this team goes big or doesn’t go at all.

Yes, the Sabres have been balling so hard to the tune of a 20-24-5 record to mull over a sullen All Star break. Perhaps they can spend their days debating what a .500 record is in a world of loser points. I would prefer to stay out of that scuffle, the need for the discussion is depressing enough.

I think the next few days will be good for us all. Watching the All Star Game is sometimes a painful experience, and you can actually go without it altogether and make out better in the end. I totally forgot they name the teams after who got booed the most at HSBC Arena during the 2006 postseason. That’s because I saw about four minutes of last year’s All Star events, and I’m totally fine with repeating that feat this year.

I’m sure there are a few Jason Pominville stories out there that will be worth reading. Luke Adam might Tweet something interesting. Beyond that, I’m taking the Thomas Vanek approach to these next few days.

“It doesn’t matter. … I’ll take the five days off.”

Although there might be some drama in watching Pominville slip down the imaginary draft board into the abyss, I’d take the break. It can help you forget, and there’s plenty worth forgetting.

That’s the funny thing about time, plenty of stuff can slip your mind as moments grow apart. It’s easy to forget just how much you forget over time. The sharpness of your memories can fade, especially when a new set of truths appear to wash them away.

When I was growing up I used to think I’d remember every game of every season. The leads that slipped away, the comeback wins, the games that a goaltender stole. When you’re obsessed with sports and have little else to worry about, you’re capable of doing just that. As you get older, though, you rarely remember a single game as groundbreaking.

Streaks become the barometer. A disastrous trip out west that, in hindsight, becomes quite telling. An inability to beat a particular team. Very rarely does one game truly stick out. Except with this team, of course. Nov. 12 at Boston. Bruins win 6-2 and take something much bigger away from the Sabres in the process.

It feels like it all fell apart right then and there. Hockey is changing, but right now it feels like the Sabres are not. The feeling isn’t true, however, as the team is always going. After all, they had to slip from Undefeated in Europe to Basement Dwellers somehow, right?

Somehow, the Sabres got bad. I say that because they weren’t always disgustingly inept. At best, they were consistently mediocre. They have been playing well beneath that for a few weeks now. Months, even. I can scarcely remember when this team was fun to watch, but I promise those times did indeed exist. They can even come back, as impossible as that seems right now.

Long stretches of losing can make you forget even the best of things you once had. Like a former lover forgetting the sound of an ex’s voice, you too can forget all of the things you once held dear about your hockey team. The way it makes you laugh or does that cute little thing with its nose, all gone when it can’t even manage to win a few measly games.

Maybe a trial separation is best, then, to forget how much it annoys you when Derek Roy messes with your record collection. Or when Ryan Miller leaves a shot of milk in the gallon container and doesn’t finish it. Paul Gaustad’s nagging about you leaving the lights on (in your own house!) or Nathan Gerbe always needing a ride to a friend’s place.

The memory of Nov. 12 isn’t going anywhere, and it has dominated the narrative of this season. That’s a difficult thing to lose track of, but time can at least temper all the bad blood that has boiled since. A few days away from hockey, real hockey at least, can do a world of good for players and fans alike.

Listen to Vanek. Take the five days off. Maybe when the Sabres come back they can take out the freaking trash for a change.