Serious Sabres Superstitions: A Story behind the Sign-off

Go Sabres.

That’s my sign-off here on Buffalo Sabres Nation, having taken it with me from my old blog, “buffalo74.”  It wasn’t there on my first post, and I don’t remember exactly when it became a part of my posts or even why – but along the way it became something much bigger than a simple sign-off.

“Go Sabres” became the latest addition to my long list of Sabres fan superstitions – a new superstition that was confirmed, eventually, by one tragic event.  More on that at the end of the post. For now, let me introduce you to a few of the things I put myself (and my lovely, supportive wife) through on game day.  It’s going to be a weird ride, so settle in with your Sunday cup-o-joe and be ready to admit to yourself that you do this kind of loopy stuff too.

The Wing-Stained Jersey

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Artist's interpretation: don't ask how it got into the armpit. Things got pretty nuts at the ol' BWW's.

During the 2006-07 playoff run, I purchased a rookie Drew Stafford “slug” jersey.  I wore that ugly slug with great embarrassment pride at the Jacksonville, FL “Buffalo Wild Wings” for every one of those insane playoff games.  Like all the other displaced Sabres fans in Jacksonville that chose that venue for that year’s wild ride, I was not willing to wear anything else on game day.  It didn’t matter how many wing/beer stains it soaked up – in fact, the more wing sauce that dripped on his jersey the more empowered I felt.  Stafford had a pretty solid showing in that playoff run, and I believed that the spice from that hot sauce was somehow adding some fire to his step. And for a fan, belief is fact.

We all know how that playoff year ended.  Washing the ol’ jersey was a painful thing to do (but at least the neighborhood pit bulls stopped following me to the corner store on my game day beer runs).

The Aud Seat

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The Captain's Chair!

It’s orange, with a #6 plate.  It’s beat up as if someone valiantly climbed fell over the fence during the demolition of the old Aud and snagged it from a pile of debris.

My lawyer would like to assure you all that not I, nor anyone else, came across the seat in that fashion, nor would we advise anyone reading this to climb a fence of any variety, (unless maybe to escape the pursuit of a bunch of neighborhood pit bulls while on a game-day beer run).

The seat was my throne of power throughout the mighty playoff push this season, a push which saw the Sabres pull off the best record in the Eastern Conference that was powered, as far as I was concerned, by the sheer willpower of my comfy butt.

When Round One came up against Philly, I had a hard choice to make.  I had already put everything colored orange into storage in preparation for the fight against the hated Flyers.  Conflicted, I set it down in the closet.

Of course, the Sabres would lose in seven games, and I can only wonder over how things may have been if I had not ditched my lucky seat.  But the fact is, it wasn’t the seat.

It was something else entirely.  Again, we’ll get to that later.

The Mini Stanley

I have an old plastic Stanley Cup – the last remaining artifact from my old Coleco table hockey game.

ColecoStanleyCup Serious Sabres Superstitions: A Story behind the Sign off

My precious.

Back in the 90’s, my friends and I at Buffalo State College would hold tourneys over this trinket, but the main events at that Coleco table were the match-ups on Sabres game days during the playoffs.  These match-ups, we were all convinced, directly influenced the outcome of the games.

The proof: I was skating with an old-school version of the Vancouver Canucks – one that included Don Lever, who was an assistant coach with the Sabres in ’93 when Buffalo swept Boston to move on to Round Two against the Canadiens.  Folks have often wondered how Brad May was able to make that move to beat Borque, and then the next move to freeze Andy Moog and score that iconic goal. Well, anyone living in Neumann Hall at that time knows what happened a few hours before RJ screamed out “MAY DAY, MAY DAY!”  My little plastic Don Lever dude had a hat trick.

Fast forward to Game Three against the Habs: Mogilny breaks his leg and LaFontaine hurts his knee.  The Sabres would go on to be swept by Montreal.  Earlier that day, little plastic Don Lever and his 2-D Vancouver boys were shut out.

These days, I position the Cup on the top right corner of my TV.  No one touches it.  If it accidentally moves a little, no one touches it. If it falls, bad things are to be expected on the ice. It’s not totally accurate, obviously, but I believe it still carries some of that power from the good ol’ days at the dorm.

And like I said, as a fan, belief is fact.

Over the years, I’ve piled up enough half-witted superstition items to make a voodoo shrine at the foot of the TV for playoff games. There’s an old, autographed Rob Ray card that I used to carry with me in my back pocket to games at the Aud.  That thing motivates the fluff players on the Sabres roster to put in that 110%.  I have a puck from each era of Buffalo hockey (including one from the “pepsi-cap” Bisons).  Each one of these is lined up, in chronological order, along the front of the TV.

I even have a Sam Elliott bobble-head (“The Stranger,” from the Big Lebowski) that  I set down near the pucks.  When I get antsy, I whap him upside the head and try to remember his opening narrative:

I can’t say I seen London, and I never been to France, and I ain’t never seen no queen in her damn undies as the fella says. But I’ll tell you what, after seeing Los Angeles and thisahere story I’m about to unfold – wal, I guess I seen somethin’ ever’ bit as stupefying as ya’d see in any a those other places, and in English too, so I can die with a smile on my face without feelin’ like the good lord gypped me.

It’s all a little stupefying and silly, isn’t it?  But it all puts a smile on my face, and I feel – I believe – these trinkets and superstitions do keep me connected to the team in a way no other thing can.

And as a fan, belief, my friends, is fact.

Oh, about that sign-off thing.  I promised I’d get back to that one.  Well, here goes – forgive me if it comes across as sounding a little like a confession.  (Because it is.)

The morning of Game Seven, I wrote up a nice little post, proof-read it with a smile, and hit the publish button.  When I read over the post on my blog a little later, all the years of building up these superstitions welled up inside of me like one perfect volcano of absolute terror: I had forgotten to sign-off.  “Go Sabres” was no where to be seen.  I hastily corrected the mistake, but seeing “Go Sabres” added to the already published product felt even worse.  I put the computer aside and waited for the game.

The Sabres were crushed.

And that’s a fact.

I’m sure all of you out there have your own odd and wonderful things that you do on game day – and I’d love to hear about them.  Feel free to share below in the comments section.  As for me, well, you better believe I will never again forget to close off a post without typing:

Go Sabres.

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