0Posted by Scott Michalak on February 11, 2015 at 9:10 am
As we sit and stew (silently, oh so silently) at the FNC over our rebuilding product on the ice, it’s a good time to revisit a time when our voices were loud, and our butts not so hopelessly stuck to our seats.
I bring to you then, in no particular order, the top 5 Aud chants from Memorial Auditorium. I may have missed some good ones. Feel free to add more in the comments below.
I’m not sure on how well this one translates to our modern era, as we retract more and more sports memes that are obviously offensive to Native Americans. But back in the day, this was one of the fondest beer chants in the oranges.
Anyway, here’s some fans from ’06 reliving the old days (they didn’t know it’s supposed to be sung, not just shouted):
3. Anything anyone ever yelled in the exit tunnels
Aside from the spectacular spectator views, one of the best elements the Aud had was leaving the game through those old tunnels. Fans weren’t just shuffling down stairwells or standing idle on an escalator. They were stampeding (and by some reports, sometimes fighting. Or urinating).
Some of my most vivid memories are of these tunnels, and joining the mob to out-shout the visiting fans. It was madness. It was glorious.
This video doesn’t do the experience justice, but it’s at least a decent look for old time’s sake (jump to 2:24):
4. “WE WANT RAY.”
I’m not one to try to sell fighting in the NHL as a necessary or even relevant part of the modern game, but as a guy who grew up in the chaos of the Memorial Auditorium, my brain is probably conditioned to the day I die to get me to jump out of my seat when the gloves fall off down on the ice. At the Aud, fighting was as big a part of the culture as anything else on the program.
Game turning sour? Down, say, 8-1? No problem. Everyone yells “WE WANT RAY.” Coach puts Rayzor out for a faceoff. Instant fight. Everyone’s happy.
The days before CTE were so naively fun.
I couldn’t locate a video for this chant (what the hey?) – but here’s a fun news report of a fan who jumped over the glass and got mercilessly PUMMELED by Rayzor, because dammit, that’s what happened when a fan jumped over the glass in front of Rob Ray back in the early 90’s.
5. Milt Ellis’ public address announcements
OK, obviously this one is not a chant, but it’s worthy of any list of legendary things said and heard at the Aud.
Meanwhile, here’s a wonderful tribute video to the man who left us in 2011…
Great old building, great old times. These days we’re quiet, as we await what very likely may be the next great chapter in Sabres history. Many are banking on the plausibility that what is coming may be the best. So don’t worry – the chants – some old, some new – are coming back to the FNC.
Something about winning gets those started up, organically.
I can’t wait for us all to make some more legendary memories at our new digs.
I asked via the Twitters for a few of you to chirp in on some of your favorite old sounds of the Aud. A few of you broke through the noise that was Sabres Trademageddon Day and I was actually able to find your responses. Here’s a few, with an extra bonus take at the end (a take that I wish I had remembered myself, actually):
Back in the way back, hockey organists were like conductors – they were quick to respond to any incident on the ice quickly with a tune that would get fans orchestrated and involved.
At some point, every arena in the NHL started blaring “Crazy Train” out of giant speakers and the whole organist/fan connection slowly died off, and that’s kinda sad. I know, we have lasers now, and some pretty hypnotic and engaging “game presentation,” but the organ at the old Aud was a persona in itself, a piece of the hockey experience that made the games just a little more personal.
There are plenty of great examples of the organ being utilized in this vintage video of the 1976 Super Series between the Sabres and the Soviet Wings, but go ahead and skip to the 1:52:20 mark, where the pipes chime in to keep the crowd clapping away even as the game was long over, having reached a score of 11-6.
Again, if you have any more sounds of the Aud that I’ve missed, go ahead and post them in the comments section below.
Some good ideas up there from the distinguished Edward R. Murrow.
Meanwhile, the Internet is quickly filling up with articles bemoaning the Sabres’ tank job, which is now stretching woefully into its second season. It’s the greatest talent heist of all time to some, and it’s downright criminally loathsome to others.
We argue a lot over this team on the social medias. We berate the coach. We scratch our heads over line combinations, and what it might take to get this team to score again. Some people throw their arms up in surrender, and question “How is one guy gonna’ change this team, anyway?” Everything is in question.
So many questions, and so many arguing over the answers – sounds like we’re all pretty lost.
Meanwhile, my kid woke me up early this morning to tell me that there’s another game tonight.
It’s the kind of wake up call that all of us older fans need. Obviously, this team isn’t built to win this season. It’s likely not going to win for another year or three. Sure, a couple trades and UFA signings could accelerate the process after GMTM is awarded McEichel at season’s end – but it’s not all about us big kids anymore. This coming team, and the trophy that it will hopefully bring home, won’t be for us. Not so much as it will be for our kids.
Remember Old Downtown? The utter futility of it all. Main Street was deceased. There was a beautiful view of the “waterfront:” there were always some cool old ships down there that you could see as you over them on the Skyway. Things are changing. There’s a new courthouse in town. The Burchfield Penny Art Museum opened up, and the Albright Knox is expanding. People are taking exits off Rt. 5 on their way down to the Southtowns just so they can drive along all the new, beautiful parks. Canalside was built, and is thriving. More canals and more pedestrian bridges have been erected at the old Aud site, and they look gorgeous. Old grain elevators are now art installations, climbing destinations, and giant beer cans. An Explore and More chilren’s museum is on the way. I haven’t even mentioned HARBORCENTER yet: the only 3 rink NHL venue of its kind. Pegula mentioned plans to eventually build a new home for the Bills downtown – and I can’t wait to see what that advent brings to Buffalo after what we saw with the FNC and HARBORCENTER.
The downtown Buffalo that we had to grow up and endure is gone. It will never be known by our kids. What they will have is something vibrant, something dynamic, alive, and victorious.
Which brings me back to that hockey team we’ve been sweating about. The Sabres our kids will know are going to be a keckuva lot of fun. The system is loaded with prospects, and will add even more talent – McEichel aside – through their myriad of draft picks and the trades those can haul into town. We oldies have had some great times. The French Connection years, the magic of LaFontaine and Mogilny, 1999, and the heroic Drury and Briere teams. Since then, we’ve been mainly upset all of the time.
The Sabres have stressed patience to the fan base. Makes sense. But a huge chunk of the fan base doesn’t care about patience, the goal scoring, the coaching, or the losses. That’s the chunk that still wakes us up early to tell us there’s a hockey game tonight.
Fan of the year, for years to come.
This new team is theirs, and I’m more than happy to pass it on to them. It only seems fitting, as they will also be growing up with that new downtown of theirs.
The new generation of Sabres fans doesn’t care about our suffering, and hopefully, it won’t ever have to endure what we’re going through right now. Once GMTM is done assembling his final roster, it will win and be pretty steadily competitive in the coming decades – the new downtown will ensure that more talent will actually want to play here. Imagine that.
So, I’ve made the choice to take a step back, and view this season in two ways:
1. We’re losing. Losing ugly. But that’s OK. This was the plan. Finishing in last is the end game goal. Finishing 5th last would be a disaster. Stay the course, give a cheer for the rooks, and breathe.
2. Try to watch the games through a kid’s eyes. Root and cheer and give up your worries. The victories aren’t here, but the talent is on its way, and the wins will follow soon enough.
All that being said, I need to log off and take a nap.
I hear there’s a big game tonight that I need to rest up for.