Monday, November 06, 2006

Keep on Hatin', Haters

Hi, everyone! Let me say up front that I'm really not usually this long-winded*. There were just so many questions!

1. Where you're from, what you do - basic things.

My name is Heather. I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama in the dark days before hockey existed in the south. I currently live in Buffalo, NY and am a rabid Sabres fan. I'm an educational aide at a day treatment program for emotionally disturbed kids. I've been in the 6th grade class for the last three years. It is, as they say, "tough but rewarding." I have a regular life blog at but it's usually not very interesting.

2. Your team and why you like them.

Growing up I was pretty oblivious to hockey. I still have family in the south so I think I can say fairly that even now hockey is pretty much an afterthought in Alabama. When I was a kid it was non-existent. I was a total tomboy so I was into just about every other sport, but hockey wasn't on my radar. Because my parents' family mostly lived in Pittsburgh I would say that I was a Penguins fan but that was mostly just me talking. We never visited Pittsburgh during hockey season and we didn't see much hockey on TV. I liked it when I saw it, but I didn't see enough of it to seek it out in any serious way.

But then I fell in love with a boy from Buffalo. He was going through serious NHL withdrawl in the south, and I think he compensated by trying to get me interested. The Sabres weren't particularly good when we met so they were hardly on TV so lack of games still kept me from being a huge fan. Then there was the Cup run in '99 that ended with Brett Hull's skate CLEARLY in the freakin' crease. I liked that team a lot – they were a bunch of overacheivers, tough and gritty little players. I still remember what we in Buffalo call the "No Goal" game like it was yesterday. I was babysitting and while I was a wonderful babysitter who prided myself on really interacting with the kids, I remember watching the game over Amy, Andrew, and Nathan's heads and shushing them more than a few times so I could hear what was going on. I remember that when Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton came home, there were only a few minutes left in the first overtime and I actually hung around to see it through. I remember getting in the car and driving like a madman to get home before the next overtime started. I remember the exciting, excruciating feeling of watching post-season overtime hockey for the first time. And mostly I remember the soul-sucking, crushing feeling of watching Brett Hull's shot squeak in past Hasek. Honestly, I didn't even realize there was a controversy about the goal until the next day when I spoke to Mark, my then boyfriend. But I've made up for my lack of knowledge then by being pissed off and cynical ever since! I'm kidding, mostly, but Mark has said it's fitting that I was fully introduced to the world of Buffalo sports on that particular night.

Anyway, I married the Buffalo boy and he, longing for home, asked me what I thought about moving back there. He took total advantage of me by reminding me that every Sabres game would be on TV and we'd probably even be able to see a few games in person. Tricky bastard! I've only gotten more and more interested and fanatical about hockey and the Sabres over the past few years with the culmination being last year. A lot of the kids that had been very young when we moved back or drafted since then were finally blossoming at the NHL level and it was totally awesome to see. The team is young, fast, skilled, and really hard-working. Most of the current roster has come up through the system together and seem to genuinely like each other on the ice and off. It's cheesy maybe but while watching them you really get the feeling that they're playing for us and each other as much as they're playing for themselves. A real connection has developed between the players and the fans. It's a magical time to be a hockey fan in Buffalo and I think we're all just trying to embrace it while it lasts.

Good Lord. You're never going to let me post here again, are you?

3. Your least favourite team and why?

The Toronto Maple Leafs. I think this is a Buffalo law. Every time that first Buffalo-Toronto game comes along, I'm actually a little excited. I think it's pretty neat to have a real rivalary with a team in a city that's close enough that fans from the opposition often show up and come close to taking over the home team's arena. And then the game actually happens and I remember that the rivalary can get pretty ugly. Our fans seem to bring out the worst in each other and there's always a few stories about drunk obnoxious fans on each side doing stupid things. Also one of our guys almost always ends up on IR afterwards. (See you in a few weeks, Max!)

I also hate Carolina but that's soley based on last year's playoffs. We'll have to give that one a couple years to see if it sticks.

4. Your favourite player of all time & now?

Well… It's hard for me to say who my favorite player of all-time is since I haven't been at the hockey thing as long as some of you have so I'm going to modify the answer a little. The first player I really knew and liked was Ron Francis back when I kinda, sorta followed the Penguins. Even after I was following the Sabres I was pulling for him to win the Cup with Carolina a few years back. My first real favorite players were Michael Peca and Jay McKee.

My favorite now is Tim Connolly which makes for a very, very sad girl. While he's on IR my back-up favorite is Brian Campbell. My favorite current non-Sabre is Scott Niedermayer though I don't get to watch him play nearly as much as I'd like.

5. If you had to punch one hockey player or member of the NHL organisation, who and why?

Darcy Tucker. Just because, you know?

6. What you'll be looking forward in this group blog.

Not hearing, "You just like him 'cause he's cute" while also being able to say, "Jay McKee is smoking hot" without feeling bad. Not hearing "How did you know that?!?!?!?" (with the tone of voice saying, "You're a girl!!!!!") while also being able to ask a question that may seem obvious without being accused of being a puck bunny.

7. What you don't like in general?

Mexican food, pro basketball, the New York Yankees, being sick on the weekend, being out of paid days off three months into the work year, Dave Matthews Band, rap music, and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad new Sabres logo

8. What role do female fans play in keeping the game alive?

I love hockey, but let's face it, the NHL needs all the fans it can get. Why not us? I've heard many a pro athlete say it's actually his mother who had the most influence on his athletic career because more often than not, it's her who's driving him to practice, going to games, and keeping everything running. Seems like it would kind of work the same way as fans. We're just as capable – if not more capable – of passing the game on to the next generation and sharing it with those around us.

9. What role do female fans play in picking heroes for the community?

Same answer as pretty much everyone else. Women are more likely to look at a player as a complete package – what he brings on the ice AND off the ice, how he talks about his family, how involved he is in the community, how he treats fans, all that good stuff. I want a player who can come up with the big goal, but I also want a player willing to do the small things like grin and wave at the little girl who is bursting at the seams with excitement every time he skates by her at open practice.

10. Hockey just isn't the same without ___

Pat LaFontaine. If he hadn't had to miss so much time and retire early because of concussion problems, he'd be known as the best American to ever play in the NHL. (Please God don't let Tim Connolly be the next Patty.) And LaFontaine's an awesomely classy guy on top of all that skill. Like many of his fellow hockey players, he's constantly doing stuff to help out others wherever and whenever he can.

11. If you were on a deserted island, which player would you pick to stay with you?

Brian Campbell. He just seems like a really laid-back, good-humored guy. I can totally picture us hanging out, drinking coconut milk, and singing Tragically Hip songs.

12. Crosby, Ovechkin or Phaneuf (hey he tried!)?

Phaneuf. I love Ovechkin's personality – I can't watch him and not smile – but I have a thing for defensemen. I hate that he's been overlooked in a lot of ways because his position isn't as flashy as a forward.

13. The player you'd like to take for a grand night out/a movie/a boring event.

Grand night out: Jay McKee - I think he'd look quite dashing all cleaned up in a tux.

Movie: Ryan Miller – Smart enough to enjoy a more serious/involving movie, fun enough to enjoy a popcorn flick.

Boring event: Marty Biron – I don't think it would be possible to have a boring time anywhere with Marty. I don't know if non-Sabres fans see him much since he's the back-up now, but he has an awesome personality – talkative, friendly, funny… effervescent. He's the Sabre I'd probably hang out with above all others. The only reason I didn't pick him for the deserted island question is that I'm a little afraid the constant talking would get annoying when spread over a few days with no one else around.

14. If you could make your own team, regardless of whatever players, what would it be called and where will it be/how would it be like?

Awww, geez, I don’t know. I'd probably try and set it up in Birmingham – spread the love! – but I'd have to think about the name. I'm terrible at naming things.

*Total lie. I'm almost always long-winded.


hockeygirl said...

You are welcome here anytime you pick Phaneuf over those other two.

Glad you've joined us. Living in Toronto, I too get excited when there is a Sabres/Leafs match-up so I can hope that Buffalo wins. Briere makes my list of faves too.

thehockeychick said...

You can be as long-winded as you want as long as it's not boring. And if it's about hockey, it's not at all boring.

God bless your husband for getting you to a hockey city. Welcome aboard from another newbie and fan from the South.

Jordi said...

UHHHH UHHHH UHHHH MICHAEL PECA!!!! Sorry. I don't love him much. I think his teeth reflects light from the ice and vice versa.

Welcome and glad to see you!

k.le said...

Whoa...everyone, lay off on the Leafs. I'm severely outnumbered on this blog and it's not a fair fight.