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Physicals were taken today at the First Niagara Center. Bodies were examined, measured, and worried over – for once, not to measure potential or promise, but just to make sure that the kids are OK and ready for their first days together at Sabres U.

In a weird sort of way, it was also to make sure that these kids are real. After the wasteland of The Suffering, the elite talents showed up to snowy Buffalo. They had their pulse taken, and there was a concurrence that they were alive, and were all here, willingly. Pictures were taken, so we have proof. You could see it in the smiles. There was no hint of regret in any of the new pickups that they were now snowbound in hapless Buffalo.

In a series of quick pressers, the youngsters exuded excitement. They were happy. There was confidence in each other, in what the future holds, for this team, for this town, and for its long suffering fans. Smiles all around.

It’s easy to smile now, unless you’re Tim Murray. He arrived here with a meaningful scowl on his face, but this shrewd personality and insight of his have paid off. He’s been a man of few words at the draft podium and in public, but bombastic in the statements of his actions and roster manipulations. His projected team, even if not yet complete, looks to dominate in a few short years. Maybe sooner, if he pushes the plunger down on another dynamite move, or two. There has been a ton of detonation and noise around this man of few words.

It’s easy to be a fan of this team right now. It’s OK when the core group of your talent is mainly chattering about how happy they are, and how they are enjoying the city of Buffalo. It’s a young group, and unless you count the leftover bodies from the last years’ massacres, they’ve never played a game together. Fans really have no measure on how the new influx of size, smarts, possession, passion, speed, and finishing will, well, finish.

It’s easy to be a player incoming of this new, exciting project as well – but that may change very soon. At some point, maybe in a month or two, (maybe more, maybe less), it will be time to get more serious about these kids, and what they are saying. Particularly, we’ll want to talk more specifically about how they are performing. How they have gelled (or not) as a young team in a very competitive National Hockey League.


At some point, there will be an emergence from the rebuilding and the hope and the happy chatter. The real rebirth from the absurdity of the tank years will begin.

I cannot say when that turning point will happen, but I cannot wait to see who takes the reins from Murray, and begins to lead this team by the throat. The expectations are heavy, and eventually, some person or persons in the locker room are going to have to make this assembly win.

Again, Murray’s work isn’t quite done yet, but the locker room has been gone through a transformation. The emergence of leadership, of the identity of this new team, can begin from so many different and powerful personalities. To name a few: Ryan O’Reilly and Zemgus Girgensons are both capable of leading by force of will. Evander Kane is a vision of confidence and power on the ice as well, and wants to best his own goal scoring records yesterday. Samson Reinhart is a humble hockey mastermind stuck almost impatient in a growing hockey body.

Those are just of the few of the personalities that had their pictures taken at the FNC today. It’s a great mix, a balance of all the traits you need to succeed in the NHL today.

The real work began when the cameras were put away today. And now all that fans, along with Tim Murray, have to do, is to await the emergence, and who will lead the commencement to the W column, and further from there.

Speed. Smarts. Power. Passion. Possession. Finishing.

How all of that comes together will be a marvel to behold. Now, it’s just up to a group of kids who just had their their pictures snapped on the first day of school to make all of our dreams come true. Let them have their day. Tomorrow, their commencement begins.

They have what it takes – the talent, the seriousness and the will, to bring us our day(s) soon enough.

Go Sabres.

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Joy. At Every Turn.


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At The Halfway Point, The Buffalo Sabres Are Both Terrible, And Terribly Exciting


41 games have been removed from the 2014-15 Sabres schedule. We’re halfway to the offseason, and at 14-24-3, everything is going as expected.


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#NHL #Lockout Tweet of the freakin’ Day. Sigh… it’s BANDY!


Technically, the tweet of the day reads “Check your Wikipedia(s).”

Whatever, jerk.

Yea I said “jerk.”

Still, despite the slightly implied “Read your own Freedom-Online-Dictionary-You-Internet-Hand-Out-Information-Junkies,” Slava is truly a great  follow on the Twitter, and if you’re not following him, then you’re doin’ it wrong-o.

So what is “bandy?” Well, it turns out that it is all sorts of awesome – so long as you consider using frozen soccer fields as an ice rink.


Oh, hell yes!

Bandy. We have bandy! It’s ours, and Bettman and Co. (Pegula) can never take it away.

Bandy 300x206 #NHL #Lockout Tweet of the freakin Day. Sigh... its BANDY!

No shirt-sleeves allowed, gentlemen. Making blood happen: totally cool. Elbows up, fellows!


Light at the end of the tunnel of the NHL lockout? Can we organize this in Delaware Park? Hell yes.



Let’s do this.

Screw you, NHL, we can bandy.

Who’s up for a game?

Go Sabres.


share save 171 16 #NHL #Lockout Tweet of the freakin Day. Sigh... its BANDY!
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The Shirt off my Back


Warning: there’s an angry old man at the typewriter today.

abe simpson typewriter 300x225 The Shirt off my Back

Now, my story begins in 19-dickety-two. We had to say “dickety” cause that Kaiser had stolen our word “twenty”. I chased that rascal to get it back, but gave up after dickety-six miles…

Let’s talk about “jersey fouls.”

I’m not sure who invented this idea, be it some sports merchandising/marketing demagogue, or be it the simple human tendency to march into the arena of war/sport under one selected banner of names, but I am sure of one thing: it pisses me off.

I could go off on the Bills here for changing jerseys last season before this year’s league-wide switch to Nike, prompting fans to buy a new jersey two years in a row – or the Dolphins planning to switch designs next year, which is even more of a dick move, but for the sake of brevity, I’m going to stick to just one sport, and I’m choosing hockey, dammit, because I am already raging enough over the Bills’ decision to slap their fans in their frost-bitten faces by sticking with blackouts.

The best run-on sentence is an angry one. Moving on.

Brad Riter had a good piece on Trending Buffalo a little while back covering his search for some new Bills threads. I loved his angle of being an older guy looking for a way not to appear awkward with the name of some 20-something’s name plastered across your back, but for me, that search is more than awkward.

The whole jersey phenomenon has gotten strange enough and more than a little slightly cultish – but more on that later. First, I’ll bullet point my thoughts as I read Brad’s pointers (pointers in italics).

  • Don’t wear a jersey of a guy who is younger than you. Well, since the Sabres decided not to sign the 1,000 year old Dominik Hasek, I guess I’m stuck with Alumni #’s. I would be set with that, if only I hadn’t placed a LaFontaine name plate on a modern-era Sabres jersey – that’s apparently a “jersey foul” too, since he never wore that precise version of the Blue and Gold sweater. Whatever, dicks.
  • Be a little creative. Don’t get something that 6 of the 10 guys at your tailgate party will be wearing. Fantastic. That gives us 23 names (off the “active roster”) to be creative with. Hmm. I hear Sekera jersey sales are lagging.
  • Don’t get cute/Ironic. Sorry Andrej, looks like we’re narrowing the field back down to the WNY-preferred North American fold. That’s right: I went there. We hate Euros. Why? “Hockey IQ,” my ass.
  • Plan ahead. Screw this. All these guys are to eventually be traded away for, well, the next hot jersey promotion. Trust me. You’ll see the Sabres tweet the new guys’ threads on Twitter every time.
  • Consider body type – his and yours. I’ve been told I’m too tall for a Gerbe jersey. Screw that. Honey badger fears nothing. Disagree all you want: I’ve seen the body types in line for beer and nachos. How many of us are built like this? Oh, you work out? Shut up.

Brad’s cautionary list stops there. He did not make any of these rules up, and he was certainly not preaching them. But boy, he sure showed how ludicrous the social pitfalls of buying a jersey are like these days.

Sabres jersey foul 224x300 The Shirt off my Back

This and $199.99 can get you mercilessly taunted by your own fan base. Because you are stupid. And the 50,000 guys wearing Miller jerseys are fucking brilliant. Whatever.

There are many other rules to the “jersey foul.” Excuse me while I ragestorm over a few of them.

No Frankenjerseys. For those that don’t know, this is the heretical act of sewing the uniforms of two different teams together. Wear one into the arenas of the NHL, and enjoy the teen paparazzi clicking away at you with their cell phone cameras, each one hoping they might earn their glory – a mention on Yahoo! Sports Puck Daddy’s “Jersey Fouls” feature. Parasites.

The Drury. Did your favorite player leave town? Sorry. Time to put the jersey on Ebay for $2.99 and add it to the $199.99 new jersey fund.

Misspelled name. As a wordaholic, I get this one. It also makes a heckuva lot of sense to get the name right if you’re investing 200 bucks of hard earned cash on your chicken wing/beer bib. This sort of thing has no place in the NHL… oh wait. Those alphabetically challenged should just opt for an Ott jersey.

Your own name. You know what? I’d love to see a section full of Nowikis, Deyoungs, Rinaldis, and whoevers. We don’t all have to be Ryan Miller, or Tyler Myers, or whichever veteran flavor of the day is selling at the Sabres’ store. When did game nite become Halloween? When did watching hockey together begin to require us all to surrender our most basic individuality?

Anyway, there’s plenty more of these ridiculous “rules,” but I’m already pissed off enough, so if this stuff is so important to you, look up the rest on your own.

I’m done feeding into it.

Still, we are now compelled to spend our money on Millers, Vaneks, and Pominvilles  – after the tickets, the parking, the beer/pop and the food. After the NHL Ticket, after the ballcaps, the garden gnomes, the bobbleheads, trading cards, mini-sticks, socks, team underwear, did I say garden gnomes? The car flags, the stickers, the posters, the license plate frames, the pennants… (hey, remember when the Sabres won the pennant that one time? Good lord). The list goes on.

Here’s my proposal for a new 2 rule system for jersey regulation:

  1. Put whatever you want on your hard earned jersey. Hack it in two, and splice it together with some Amerks threads. Go all out and put your own name on the back. You still won’t be a member of the team. Enjoy the game.
  2. Join the mob. Buy a Name. Be Miller. Be Vanek. Be Pominville. You still won’t be a member of the team. Enjoy the game.

Funny thing is, that’s where the whole “jersey foul” notion seems to begin and end: if you do it wrong, you’re not playing right, you’re not with it, you’re not on the team. Then again, if you follow the rules, YOU ARE STILL NOT ON THE FREAKING TEAM.

You want to know why people put their own names on the backs of their jerseys, or mash them together into Frankenjerseys? Because it’s fun.

No, these people that you see are not idiots, or social outcasts, or deranged in any way. They do not deserve to have pictures of their backs plastered all over the Internet for the rest of the jersey wearing hordes to guffaw at.

You know what’s not fun? An endless sea of Ryan Millers hunched over in their seats backstopping nothing but the serving end of a gigantic beer. Or worse, actually being the fan who fouled up a jersey, and has to put up with a night of cyber stalking and smarmy giggling from the clique that bought into this BS.

Assholes: we’re at a hockey game, not a Nazi revival camp. There’s no need to fucking police each other.

IMG 3149 900 The Shirt off my Back

Whoever took this “jersey fouls” shot during the Kings’ Cup parade took “creeper” to another level. Watch your asses out there, folks.

There was once a time when you went to the good old hockey game in jeans and a shirt. Or a suit. It was the folks who came in dressed in jerseys that raised a curious eyebrow back then – those were the ones just a little too much into the game. Now, the NHL and other leagues have the notion of the “jersey foul” a little too much into the heads (and the wallets) of their fans.

Me? I’m done. I’ve been through an Audette, a LaFontaine (again, so egregiously placed on a Blue and Gold version that wasn’t precise enough to his tenure, since those are kinda hard to come by), a Drury, and a possibly soon to be obsolete Stafford.

I’m done buying into the rules. But the rules are going to persist, right? Mob Rules wins every time. I’ve given enough, I’ve spent enough, and I’m done. I’ve given this league – literally – the shirt off my back, and the blood sweat and tears of my dollar. And haven’t we all? If the guy with the fouled up jersey ain’t on the team, neither is anyone else in the stands. We’re all paying for this whole hockey thing to exist.

Again, disagree all you want. You’ve got an army of fellow Millers standing alongside you.

Oh, and whether you do the jersey thing right or do it wrong, a subtle reminder on how the league cares about how we go about this: “lockout.”

Get me the hell outta’ here, Roger Cozier and your well dressed fans.


Classy threads. Those were the DAYS.

Dammit all.

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