Saturday, March 31, 2007

Watching Hockey Night in Canada

And Jesus, is it fun.

It's the Flames and Canucks, and the beautiful thing for an East Coast hockey fan whose watching these teams play is that it's a showcase of players you've always heard about and don't get to see much, along with guys who you loved at one point but you haven't seen in ages.

Kristen Huselius, Tony Amonte, Brad Stuart, Daymond Lankow, Sami Salo, Alex Tanguay, Roman Hamirlik, Brian Smolinski, it's like a who's who of "What the hell happened to that guy I liked?"

Fuck, you even get to see Rory Fitzpatrick, which will be fun till the day he retires.

As it stands, Calgary is leading 3-0 in an unfriendly building, and they look very, very good.

With all the emphasis on speed and rolling lines these days, it's fun to watch Calgary (who is also plenty fast), and their shotblocking and tough forechecking style that doesn't look too different from the one that got them to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals back in the last gasps of the "old NHL." I'm surprised to see that the teams are tied in shots, when in real time, it seems like Calgary would be beating them soundly in that department.

That Kipersoff makes it look easy, don't he?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Leaving Boston now.

And it can't be soon enough as I'm taking a train from South Station, which is downwind from the TD Banknborth Garden and the stinky, stinky Bruins.


I'm gonna light a match or two, then head out of town.

Now all there is left to do root for both the Rangers and Isles to make the playoffs.

More local teams in the tournament, the greater my chances of seeing live playoff action.

Anybody wanna take me to the playoffs?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I don't like the Habs any more than the rest of you...

...but this is pretty good:

Elmo is pretty clearly hepped up on goofballs (and probably helium) but I'd say his prediction is right on.

I'm in Boston- buy me a beer?

Well, as it happens, the lady had to travel to Boston this week for work, and as my most recent freelance assignment over at Court TV just ended, I decided to tag along and catch up on my drinking during the daytime.

Unsurprisingly, I found myself in a sports bar outside the Garden, and walked over to the Bruins pro shop, hoping for some kind of "Christ, I know it's embarassing to wear this stuff, but look how cheap it is!" sale.

Sure, the Bruins collapsed in epic fashion this month, (notwithstanding last night's nice win against Ottawa) but that doesn't mean that I'll look askance at an opportunity to snag a new spoked B hat for 50 percent off. As it turned out, the sales were on, but there wasn't much I wanted in there, although I admired the balls they had in asking 5 bucks for a shitty sticker of that awful old mustard bear.

But the Bruins are hosting the Penguins tomorrow, and I thought I'd see how much tickets were, and sure enough I scored some 10 dollar tickets up in the nosebleeds. Once I get in, I'm guessing I'll pretty much be able to pick my seat.

I've never seen Sidney Crosby skate, I'm interested in seeing Bruin prospects Mark Stuart and Peter Kalus stretch their legs a bit, and let's be honest, when NHL hockey costs less than a matinee of Wild Hogs, you gotta take notice.

I know we have unsuccessfully attempted the American Hockey Fan "Buy me a Beer" challenge before, but I think it's time for one more crack at it. In the past, Both Jen and I have given out our seat numbers in the hope that someone would stop by with a beer in exchange for a personal shoutout on the site.

However, as I may be moving around once I get to the game, here's a step by step guide to how you will be able to find me to purchase me a beer:

1) Enter the upper deck of the TD Banknorth Garden
2) Find a male in his 30's who isn't wearing Penguins gear
3) It'll probably be me.

A Molson would be ideal, but whatever they have is fine.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Well, the HDTV finally kicked in.

It took me a few days to figure it out, seeing as the cable box and the television need to be on the right settings, it requires new cables, new connections and when you consider that this TV has enough inputs on it that with the correct set of wires, I can use it to travel through time, it can get complicated.

Today, it was to be my job to call the cable company and threaten to call Direct TV, an action that was sure to cause the Time Warner representative to tremble in fear at the thought of a black mark on their heretofore spotless reputation for stellar customer service. Of course, they also might just decide to send me though a automated telephone menu so rigorous that it would solve nothing, waste my entire afternoon, and lead me to a level of frustration so intense that I would literally begin looking though the stationary drawer for a mailer envelope sturdy enough to safely deliver the customer service department of Time Warner what it truly deserved, a tightly coiled human turd.

So I was sitting there, with my HDTV cable box still thinking that I had a square television screen, tired of poring over owners manuals and at the edge of despair. With remote in hand, I did what all American males do when logic has failed them, and started pressing random buttons.

Once of the buttons I chose was the "source" button on my TV remote, and all of a sudden, the clouds parted, the horizontal grey bars disappeared, and High Definition television arrived. Of course, this was a bit of a mixed blessing, as the sample HD channel I was watching happened to be ABC, which was tuned to "The View."

It was startling, to say the very least.

If you aren't used to watching high definition broadcasting in the first place, having it instantly sear across your field of vision in the form of the horrible spectre of Rosie O'Donnell, Barbra Walters, Joy Behar, and that other witchy little see-you-next-Tuesday in full crisp, horrifying clarity, well- it's enough to give anyone the heebie jeebies.

"The View," indeed.

Sounds like a Japanese horror movie.

Despite the fact that I was staring directly into every detailed bulge and wrinkle of these horrifyingly orange women, I was so thrilled that my HDTV was finally working, that it provided me with enough residual, pent-up joy to help me fight through the horror of the images currently unfolding before my eyes. With a song in my heart, I shrieked like a wounded animal, bayed out a few repetitions of "THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU"and gleefully fumbled my way to the cable remote and the relative safety of the Discovery channel in HD, which by the way, also fucking rocks.

But it's nothing compared to hockey.

Hockey in High Definition is really something extraordinary.

Let me put it this way- I'm watching the Boston Bruins get the shit kicked out of them by the Pittsburgh Penguins on a replay of Sunday's NBC game on the Universal HD channel, and I gotta tell you, I am loving it.

I love the Boston Bruins, hate the Pittsburgh Penguins and I can't take my eyes of this goddamn screen.

In high definition, the Bruins are more than just a bored, disinterested, passionless hockey team, they are like bored, disinterested, passionless house guests.

It's almost indescribably awesome.

Thank God the Bruins suck.

If they were any good this year, I'd never leave the house.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Guest Blogger Jack Kukoda: "I am classy."

Hey guys- it's time once again for a guest column from Buffalo Sabres fan Jack Kukoda, who is upset about the bad reputation of Sabres fans around the league. In typical Buffalo fan fashion, he has decided to get drunk, take off his shirt and yell about it.



How to be a Buffalo Sabres Fan
By Jack Kukoda

There’s been a lot of talk on the web recently about how drunk and obnoxious Sabres fans are, and since my column last week didn’t do much to refute this, I decided to educate and enlighten you all with an impassioned essay, extolling the virtues of the city of Buffalo and its fans. It would be entertaining, informative and maybe, just maybe, would raise the level of discourse among hockey fans across North America.

Then I got about halfway through and realized it was really hard to write elegantly and thoughtfully, so in honor of the home-and-home series between the Sabres and Leafs, (starting tonight at HSBC arena) I decided to just talk a whole bunch of shit about Canadians.

I am classy.

Here goes.

Last week I forgot to add one thing that’s true of all Sabres fans. We fucking hate Leafs fans. Four times a year, they invade the HSBC arena to cheer on their history-rich, championship-poor team (at least since Lyndon Johnson was President.) They do this because Toronto is only 90 miles from Buffalo and tickets to Leafs' home games are so coveted and expensive that only Ontario's most prominent fur-traders can afford them.

As such, after getting a special dispensation from the Queen of England to cross the border, these Leafs fans drive over the Peace Bridge and make Sabres games absolutely hellish for the local fans. And fuck all that noise you've heard about Canadians being polite, because it's not true. They'll talk shit to 8 year olds. In particular, they have one favorite insult they like to use, over and over again.

Since I was a kid, dozens of Canadians have delighted in telling me that "Buffalo is the armpit of America."

No matter how many flaws you point out in their native city or country, that is their only retort:

"Buffalo is the armpit of America!"

“Yeah, but you’re from Oshawa, for Christ’s sake.”


“You put ketchup on macaroni cheese.”


“In terms of cultural trends, your entire country is three years behind Des Moines, Iowa!”


By the way, that last one isn't an exaggeration. Watching Canadian television is like unearthing a long lost time capsule. Whenever I'm at my parents' house and flip past a Canadian channel, waves of nostalgia wash over me. "Wow, jam shorts? I haven't seen those in years… huh- I used to have a band collar shirt just like that....Wait, Nickelback is still alive? That does not seem possible."

Occasionally, a Canadian will have another comeback, but they are equally unconvincing. Don't give me any of that shit about free health insurance or natural beauty or how America is an aggressor on the world stage, because I'm not impressed.

We're talking about what's important here: pop culture. If your entire country can't produce a single decent sitcom or movie, you have no right to exist. At least Mexico made Pan's Labyrinth. What have you done since Kids in the Hall(one of my absolute favorite shows of all time). Royal Canadian Air Farce? This Hour has 22 Minutes? Those shows make Mind of Mencia look like Masterpiece fucking Theatre. Think about that while you're eating poutine or riding your moose to work or whatever the hell it is you do up there when you're not invading HSBC arena or shopping at our malls for clothes that won't be available at the Eaton Centre for another 12 years. Oh, Leafs’ fans, you make me so mad! And don't get me started on Habs fans. You're about as French as my asshole is Portuguese, so drop the whole fucking act and broadcast your games in English already.

Okay, I feel like this has definitely opened an intelligent and thoughtful dialogue with our neighbors to the north. I look forward to hearing their responses. Am I a hero for taking the first step and extending an olive branch to my fellow hockey fans?

The answer is yes.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Just signed up for the hockey package.

You heard me.

After my nearly-season long plight on RCN cable, which doesn't offer the package, the Hockey Gods intervened and broke our old television. Soon, we were proud owners of an HDTV, and the combination of my near-constant whining about the hockey package and the fact that RCN cable has rotten pay per-view service all added up to a hello to Time Warner Cable, and a goodbye to productivity.

Of course, there is a certain amount of suckiness to the fact that the instant that I get the hockey package the Bruins irrevocably slide into oblivion.

Ahh well.

If they had to break me, like they seem to every year, this year they had the common decency to do it execution-style. They needed four wins against the Rangers and Habs, and instead decided to well, not score any goals in the first two games.

Still, I was cheered up by this Youtube from my pal Jack, depicting Buffalo Sabre (and future "have another donut" Devils coach Jim Schonfeld in a memorable collision with the Bruins Wayne Cashman.

Enjoy- I'll be busy watching every every single hockey game that's on tonight.

Any suggestions?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Birth of an American Hockey Fan Week Seven: The Live Game

First off, to satisfy the perhaps twos and threes of you out there who might be wondering whether a beer was in fact purchased for me at last week's game, the answer is "No, you ungrateful, post-grubbing bastards." Had my ears not been filled with the sounds of my own dry, parched cough and the constant swish of the puck hitting the back of the Devils net, I'm sure crickets dropping pins could have been heard. I don't want to get all holistic and godlike here, but if one of you had bought me a beer, the Devils wouldn't have lost.

Thanks to a healthy penchant for gambling/the timely victory of my alma mater's hockey team over the Earl's, my Devils-Pens tickets were begrudgingly gratis, and after following Ben's treasure map-like instructions to get to my awaiting NJTransit Chariot, we were all set. The first thing you notice about the Continental Arena is that the Devils are still kinda riding the high from their last Stanley Cup win, as evidenced by the appearance of "2001-02 Stanley Cup Champs" on every available surface; we were even given pictures of the 2001-02 Devils as we dejectedly left the arena, the sporting event giveaway equivalent of the cutout face mask on the back of the cereal box (I gave mine to Ben to put in his hope chest). I understand the importance of team history, but those are some seriously dated laurels to be resting on, and though I supose it would be bad for team morale to just plaster Martin Brodeur's face and name all over the stadium instead, they should probably think about mixing it up a bit.

Speaking of which, it's a testament to L'Homme himself that he can allow three goals and still leave the game batting away sexual favors like flies. Though the first period went by in a haze of nacho cheese and crushing disappointment, as I was granted neither a fight, a goal, or really, any excitement whatsoever, once we got to the second period and Brodeur started being all "After you..." to the puck, things picked up. I was granted a pretty sweet fight that utilized both the horizontal and the vertical axis, I used both the terms "one-timer" and "Howitzer", though the second was more in a spelling bee-ish type manner, as in, "If that slapshot had been going at a higher velocity, it would be considered a Howitzer," and I got to see a Penguins fan kicked out of our section based solely on the judicial writ of "a lot of guys in Devils jerseys pointing at him."

I'm not much one for hype, but considering how much fellating's been done on Sidney Crosby and Brodeur's behalfs, these guys really stood up pretty well. Brodeur's got a certain grace to him even in the face of defeat, though the home ice advantage of having your name splayed across 10,000 hairy Italian chests probably helps, and Crosby, well, the Kid can skate, I'll tell you that. Sid took some serious beatings, managing to get the shit kicked out of him by the opposing team, his own team, and the puck itself, which is pretty impressive considering those are the only three things on the ice, but aside from a short and completely justified temper tantrum, he held it together pretty well.

Birthing Status: Pissed That No One Bought Me a Beer

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Charles Star, my buddy who likes college hockey, particularly Cornell, just hipped me to this, the game winning goal from the WCHA's final five tournament, and it's a dandy, not only for the shot, but for the rinkwide bank shot of a pass.

I saw Gretzky score a goal on a dump in like that back when he was with the Oilers, and if you have a forward with some wheels, you can really catch the opposition with their pants down on a play like this.

Anyway, check it out, it's cool:

I mean, holy cow.

Oh, and just for fun , here's Neal Broten's goal that many were comparing it to:

As I well know, Charles hates the the University of Minnesota, but he was kind enough to pass the link along because (and I didn't know this part) he also hates North Dakota. I'll tell you, whatever college hockey lacks in speed and skill, it more than makes up for in hate.

Hockey needs hatred, and that was just what I needed to see, after wasting my Saturday night watching the Rangers set up a pup tent in the Bruins' crease, and just hammer in pucks all night long.

The story of the pre-game was Aaron Ward, who was apparently traded from the Rangers to the Bruins after an argument with Jaromir Jagr where Ward questioned Jagr's leadership. While Jagr is unquestionable a crappy leader, Aaron Ward isn't coming off much better.

According to today's Boston Globe, ""Zdeno Chara and Aaron Ward, Boston's top defensive pairing, were on the ice for four of New York's seven goals. Chara threw one hit and has yet to fight this season."

Jagr is definately a Prima Donna, kind of soft, and a crappy captain. Chara has also yet to prove that he can motivate his teammates and is probably only the captain because Patrice Bergeron was too young at the beginning of the season, but what the fuck, Aaron Ward?

You're playing your old team that you left after leveling an accusation of crappy leadership. So how about stepping up to the plate? Jagr had three assists last night on the power play- what did you do?

Still, if you start pointing fingers at guys on the Bruins last night, not many people are going to come off well.

This was bad, but not the end yet. Right now, the Bruins must beat Montreal twice, in regulation. Then they face the Rangers again, and must rise to the challenge.

This is what the Bruins must do if they are to maintain any chance of making the playoffs finishing ahead of Florida.

Just keeping the expectations realistic here.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Huge comeback win for the Bruins!

Well, I was scoreboard watching tonight, and while the Bruins have a long road ahead of them, they picked up two HUGE points on everybody who matters to them in the East tonight with a big 3rd period comeback and shootout win against the Caps.

Add that to both the Devils and Senators doing their part to vanquish the Canes and Isles in regulation and that adds up to the Black and Gold elevating their status from "totally fucked" to a respectable "pretty much still fucked."

You know what that is?


Also, with their next four games against the Rangers and Habs, who are both solidly on the bubble, it's looking like they have their destiny in their own hands, at least for the next two weeks.

I'll close with this- if you're a Bruins, Rangers, Leafs, Canes, Isles, or Habs fan and you need another good reason to hate Gary Bettman and his unbalanced schedule this year, well- answer this question:

Wouldn't it be nice to play the Edmonton Oilers right about now?

That explains it

I'm sure Jen will be weighing in soon with her reactions to last night's Devils/Pens game, but allow me to pre-empt some of her inevitable ball-breaking.

You see, I discovered the reason why the Devils were shut out on home ice for the first time this year. It's not easy to win a game when your hall of fame goaltender is clowning around behind the opposition bench:

Come on, Marty...knock that off.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Worst Hockey Items Available on eBay: Volume One.

A postcard featuring a caricature of Ray Bourque playing golf.

Yep, this is for sale. Don't get me wrong, I loved Ray Bourque, but really? A postcard of a CARICATURE of Ray Bourque? Playing golf? Not a photo, not playing hockey, not even WEARING A HOCKEY UNIFORM?

Yeah- I'd like to place a bid- on the huge balls you must obviously possess to ask someone for money for that. I mean Jesus, Christ. The seller goes on to say that it is available in "MINT CONDITION!"

Really? I suppose that is pretty rare seeing as anyone who owned one of these would certainly have creased it's pristine edges by throwing it directly into the trash. The opening bid for this piece of shit is 77 cents, by the way. Get it?! What that means is, even if the Bruins hadn't retired Phil Esposito's number this goddamn thing would still cost 7 cents too much.

Speaking of which, look at this awful fucking thing:

That's right, it's "Vintage" Phil Esposito skate straps, or as they are better known, "6 inches of trim from a 30 year old carpet sample."

All yours for a mere 18 dollars.

Oh, and Jen's at the Devils/Penguins game tonight at the Meadowlands, her first since becoming an official AHF.

If you're going to the game, buy her a beer, willya?

Coaches Corner with Don Cherry- March 10

This is a pretty great Coaches Corner, with great points about hitting, fighting, Jordan Staal and pretty sweet flashback to 1999.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

American Hockey Fan's Buy me Beer v 2.0

All right folks, this was attempted once before my tenure here, to let's-just-go-with "lukewarm response", but I have to assume that it's because most of you don't like Ritch, Ben, or Jack, and not because you don't believe in the principle of the thing. So here you have it- American Hockey Fan's Buy me Beer, Take Two.

I, Jen Adams, your intrepid guide through the birthing process of an American Hockey Fan and all-around decent, thirsty human being, will be attending my first professional hockey game (Devils-Penguins) since becoming an AHF tomorrow night, at Continental Arena in East Rutherford, NJ. I'm a girl who enjoys a tipple or two, and I like my live pro sports like I like my men- mashed, fermented, then poured into a 16-20 oz cup with minimal foam. It's not that AHF readers owe me a beer- I write my weekly post out of the love of the game, natch- but I watched Rob Lowe get his balls shaved for you people. I'm just saying.

The first fan of this blog (or their representative) to bring a cold draft beer to me in section 231, Row 24,seat 10(I'll be the girl loudly screaming generic encouragements at the Devils, such as "Put the puck into the boundaries of the net!" and "Skate faster than the opposing team so that you might score more points!") at any time during the Devils-Penguins game on March 14, 2007 will win the following (optional AND paltry!) prizes, adapted from Ritch's original bounty:

1) At least one (1) picture with me (that will be published on this blog), in which I will use Photoshop's "blur" tool in order to make myself appear freakishly deformed, thereby making you look more attractive in comparison. I can also testify to you being a "totally doable solid 7.5", even if you are, in fact, completely not.

2) At least one (1) paragraph (published on this blog) of effusive, probably somewhat forced praise, saluting you (or your business or project) for your courage, good taste and excellent choice of lagers.

3) Though I'll be rooting for the Devils out of loyalty to/fear of Ben, I'm not all that tied to them, so if you're a Penguins fan, I will happily shift allegiances midgame. If you're a Devils fan, then forget I just wrote that.

Think of the indelible impression you can leave on a nascent hockey fan. If a drop of free alcohol passes these lips thanks to one of you, the sport of hockey will have gained a lifelong fan, and it will all be because of you and the fine people of the Molson Brewing Company. It's in your hands, people.

Monday, March 12, 2007

"Stevens checks the musky into the boards!"

Just imagine the conversation:

"I'm the captain."

"Actually, on this boat, I'm the captain."

"I'm the captain."

"Yes, but again, while we're on the boat--"





"I'm the captain."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Birth of an American Hockey Fan Week Six: Classic Clips

1970 Stanley Cup clincher by Bobby Orr

The nine year-old girl in me is simply delighted by this clip. Fathers out there, if you’re trying to raise a young American Hockey Female of your own, I’d start with this clip, and go light on the Bobby Orr/Stanley Cup background explanation. Simply point your young blossom at the screen, press play, and say “Look, hockey players can fly!” She’ll either fall in love with the sport, or become deeply suspicious of Canadians.

Stevens flattening Lindros

OK, whoever described this as a “flattening” and got my hopes up, you need to leave the commune more often, hippie. I’ve thrown harder punches than that at Ann Taylor Loft.

Yzerman’s Double OT goal

Without having seen the first seventy or so minutes of this game, and having spent nearly that long figuring out how one would pronounce “Yzerman”, all I can muster up is this: “Great shot”.

Pronger’s pass to Karya through Lemieux’s legs

This one was suggested by Ritch himself, in an attempt to turn a green young hockey fan against a hockey legend who led his country to a gold medal despite a debilitating hip injury. You’d think as a Bruins fan you’d try to stay away from all bad karma-inducing practices, but hey, to each his own.

Lemieux Turtles

A newbie’s thought process on this clip, entitled “Claude ‘Turtle’ Lemieux” by YouTube:

“Jesus, how many Lemieuxs are there? It kind of contradicts the name.”“
Why is this one named Turtle?”
“Ah. Gotcha.”

Brett Hull’s 1999 Stanley Cup goal

Upon careful review, I really believe there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into account here, beyond the contested shot. For starters, the logic behind the seemingly arbitrary distinction of three consecutive shots constituting possession. Second, there’s the matter of crowd mentality having a major affect on officials during the review of footage, adding a strong element of human error to what should be a fair and balanced decision. Third…fuck it. HE WAS IN THE CREASE.NO GOAL.*

* I may be new enough to the Sabres booster club to be somewhat objective, but have you seen the size/BAC of some of those fans? I’m not stupid.

It’s weird, the thing that people love most about hockey(Excluding Ritch, whose #1 most enjoyed attribute is “the unfailing heartbreak provided by Boston-area teams")—the fact that the tide of the game can change at any second—is the exact thing that makes it somewhat dull to watch the classics in clip form. Without the investment provided by three hours spent absorbing yourself in the game, and without any particularly strong anti-communist stance, it’s hard to get jazzed for any singular outcome to most of these games/clips. Go figure.

Birthing Status: Trying to Remember my Lamaze Breathing

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I just saw an ad for Chili's-

-in which a group of young hip partiers sat down for a meal at Chili's, and one of them confidently says "I could work at Chili's- I'm pretty good on the grill."

His friends look at each other incredulously. One of their expressions says:

"What!? How could a mortal man, without putting in the years of time and training, possibly ascend the mountain of culinary excellence that is Chili's?"

And another friend's expression, slightly angrier this time, seems to say:

"Does this dickhead think he can actually flip a burger, put a slice of cheese on it , and pour mushrooms, onion sauce AND salsa over it when completed? Challenge not the Gods young Icarus, for you shall fly too high to the sun!"

Sensing their doubt, he tries another tack-

"Oh- I can cook!"

Again, his friend's eyes roll, this time to the eyes of their waitress, who shares a "what a deluded asshole" look with them. Even she knows the truth.

They all laugh.

I was really hoping the commerical would keep going for 10 more seconds so the guy could say- "No, seriously, It's not that hard. You just read the shit off of these laminated cheat sheets they have pinned behind the grill. I know the guy who works here. In addition to this fry-cook gig, he sells crystal meth out of his van behind the restaurant. I heard him talking about how he once put together both a Mesquite Chicken Salad and a Southwestern Cobb while getting a handjob from a single mother. So, you know- go fuck yourselves. By the way, are you gonna finish those poppers? They came here frozen in a truck from Cleveland. You know that, right?"

Games to watch tonight?


Might not a sellout but it'll definitely be a war.

Also, Penguins and Devils clash in what could be a playoff preview, and thanks to this bizarre schedule, marks Brian Rolston's return to Boston for the first time since signing with Minnesota, what- 3 years ago? He was a fan favorite, and if there's a crowd at the new Garden, I bet they give him a nice welcome.I also bet he scores a shorthanded goal.

They really should hold a charity all-star game pitting the players that the Islanders let walk out of town for a song against the ones the Bruins did. Come to think of it, the Blackhawks could put a pretty strong team on the ice for that contest as well.

Oh, and speaking of bad ads, anybody else sick of watching those Goddamn Rock-em sock-em robots Dodge ads on Versus? OK- I get it, hockey, you have exactly one corporate sponsor.

If they'd branch out a little, I wouldn't even mind watching another Chili's ad.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Guest Blogger Jack Kukoda: "For a drunken and sleep-deprived hockey fan, there is little solace in logic."

Jack Kukoda is the comedian responsible for, among other things, the very funny website . He's also a Buffalo Sabres fan, something I stopped holding against him the moment he got the hockey package and started inviting me over to watch Hockey Night in Canada on his roommate's HDTV.

At one point, we talked about how AHF contributor Jen was a new Buffalo fan, and how it might be a good idea to provide a little backstory from a longtime Sabres follower. A lightning-quick 3 months later, he came through like a champ.



How To Be a Buffalo Sabres Fan

By Jack Kukoda

I know, I know. It’s a little late in the season to give anyone advice on how to be a Sabres fan, especially with the Sabres in first place in the NHL. But before you go calling me a front-runner or a bandwagon jumper, I should point out that Ritch asked me to write this column months ago. Due to a combination of being busy and just an overall desire to be a prick to Ritch, I didn’t get a chance to tackle it until now. Besides, I wouldn’t be a true Buffalo fan if I weren’t just a little bit of a front-runner.

There are two hallmarks to every true Sabres fan: unbridled, irrational optimism matched only by devastating, irrational pessimism. These are the yin and yang of the Buffalo fan, existing simultaneously and in harmony with each other, yet locked in a constant struggle for superiority. The Buffalo sports fan is perhaps the most bi-polar of any fan out there, and like anyone suffering a chemical imbalance; their emotions can turn on a dime.

When things are going well for our team, you’ll know about it. We’ll travel to your team’s arena and make drunken asses of ourselves. We’ll call up sports radio shows to proclaim the Sabres’ dominance, with nary a question or comment for the host! We’ll record a new version of the song “We’re Gonna Win That Cup” every few years, despite only making it to the Stanley Cup Finals twice in franchise history. We’ll do all that and more.

But when things go wrong for the Sabres-such as the prospect of losing our captain for the season-we’ll sulk, proclaim the season lost, and blame God, the national sports media and Canadian-born referees. Sometimes a combination of all three. And yes, most Sabres fans believe Canadians are out to screw us at every turn. Same goes for Bettman.

I'll grant you that fans of all teams are full of enthusiasm when things are going well and hopelessly depressed when they aren't, but what separates the Buffalo fan is the absolute extremes.

Perhaps the following anecdote will illustrate my point:

The last time the Sabres went to the Stanley Cup Finals, back in ‘99, I camped out at the arena overnight with a bunch of friends to try and get tickets. We were all home from college for the summer, and with no real responsibilities besides our shitty summer jobs, we threw a party for every playoff game.

As soon as the Sabres eliminated the Maple Leafs in the Conference Finals, we rushed down to the arena. We even brought the pony keg with us that we had bought for that night’s game. By the time we got downtown, there were already a couple hundred fans camped out. Everyone was celebrating and drinking so we joined right in.

I distinctly remember a palpable spirit of camaraderie among the crowd as total strangers shared food and beer all night. It was like a Phish concert, if Phish concerts didn’t totally suck. When the ticket booth finally opened in the morning, everyone started chanting “Let’s Go Buff-a-lo” as we formed an orderly line.

When they sold out of tickets after about fifteen minutes, the parking lot nearly erupted in a riot. Within seconds, our collective mood had changed. Fans started pelting the ticket booth with meatball subs, 2 liter bottles of “pop,” which is what we call soda in Buffalo, and other garbage. The police, who had ignored us all night while we drank from a keg on the sidewalk in the middle of downtown Buffalo, started inching closer to the crowd. Our Woodstock had become an Altamont. Just when I thought we had reached the nadir of our collective savagery, two shirtless, mustachioed-men starting fighting each other in the middle of the line. After that, the police broke things up and everyone went home, dejected and angry.

Suddenly, we hated the Sabres, or at least their management, for getting our hopes up only to smash them by only releasing a limited number of tickets at the box office. We found out later that the Sabres had in fact released quite a few tickets, just not at the box office, and we would have had better luck calling up Ticketmaster that morning or going to ticket outlet at a grocery store. But that didn’t make us feel much better, because for a drunken and sleep-deprived hockey fan, there is little solace in logic.

Perhaps that wasn’t the best story to tell, especially since I had hoped to use this column to debunk recent perceptions of Sabres fans as a drunken louts.

In truth, most of us are erudite, well mannered, and in my case, possess abs that most men would kill for.

I’ll try to make that clearer next time.

For a first hand look at the psyche of the Sabres fan, check out bfloblog, especially the open threads during the games. It's like watching the game with a bunch of funny, knowledgeable, smartass hockey fans from Buffalo. And if that doesn't sound like fun to you, then you're goddamn communist.

Here's a blast from the past-

Hannu Toivonen and Peter Budaj facing off in a goalie fight back in their AHL days.


Back in Budaj's AHL days.

Winner gets to not only start for the big club, but ruin the others playoff hopes.

It's basically a six team scrum as the Rangers, Islanders, Hurricanes, Bruins, Canadiens and Leafs fight for the 7th and 8th playoff spots. Still, all season, every single one of those teams have combined to hand the Sabres a whopping 6 losses.

I'm really sure one of them can do it four times, by themselves in two weeks.

I'm depressed.

That first Colorado goal tonight shoulda been reviewed.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Birth of an American Hockey Fan Week Six: Just a Regular Old Game

I decided it was a good time to check in and see where I stood in terms of applying all this delicious knowledge I’ve been acquiring, and what better time than the Sabres first post-trade game against the Canadiens on Friday night (Tuesday’s slaughter against the Leafs didn’t count, the locker room still smelled vaguely of Biron). Having been downgraded to one of the smaller screens at the local sports bar- if there’d been one more spring training scrimmage on, I think we would have been relegated to an old computer monitor in the back- the action wasn’t as visceral as past games, but the refs weren’t as fun either, in terms of allowing fights. I suppose getting inadvertently punched in the face a few times can do that to a man.

Two Sabres goals within the first two minutes was some pretty potent foreshadowing of the kind of game it was going to be, and I had to make peace with the fact that if I wanted to take a piss, I would likely miss at least three goals. Two beers in, I waxed a little philosophic (internally, waxing philosophic out loud at my sports bar is prohibited)- is it better to have a high scoring game, with more moments of elation, or does that dilute the joy of a goal? Two more beers, a glass of whiskey, and a Sabres victory later, it turned out I didn’t give a shit.

I was disappointed not to see Conklin go in for his trial by fire; I either want to see this guy go down in flames or carried off the ice on Slavic shoulders, anything in between would be a letdown. Wondering how wide the gap would have to be before Lindy Ruff would let him try to win the crowd/his freedom proved pointless, as the Habs wouldn’t roll over and die spectacularly enough to allow it. I was definitely feeling more comfortable watching this game than I have been in previous weeks, and I think this was the first time I managed not to give bystanders the impression of "Baby’s First Hockey Game". Though my slang usage is more at the "hat trick" than the "dump and chase" level, I’m feeling adventurous, and when I attend my first official NHL game as an American Hockey Fan next week, my goal is to have enough command of my lexicon to be able to intersperse the appropriate swear words.

In the meantime, this week’s theme is "Classic Hockey Plays/Games", starting with a "Miracle on Ice" as an amuse-bouche. I’ve got the Sabres/Stars Cup game in my YouTube queue, but here’s where I need a little help from AHF readers. What plays are considered to be seminal/controversial moments in the sport of hockey? Line ‘em up for me and I’ll watch ‘em.

Birthing Status: Bitching at the Baby’s Father for Getting me Into This

Friday, March 02, 2007

Hullo Bert!

Thanks again to Christy at Behind the Jersey for scaring up this pic from the Detroit news. That sublime bit of photo-editing was all me.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Back from vacation.

Well, I'm back from a quick jaunt to the great state of Texas, where I celebrated the NHL trade deadline at opening night of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. My lady grew up there, and I know the trade deadline is exciting and all, but if you get an opportunty for 75 degree weather in February, you'd get the hell out of New York too.

On the day of the deadline, I walked around the rodeo in my cowboy gear, and (with apologies to the last place Houston Aeros) ruminated on sports that are more popular down there than hockey.

Here's an example of just one of them:

Still, as great as the food is in Texas, I'm happy to be back in a state that is a little less excited about it's own shape on the map.

That said, I do have a few thoughts about the trade deadline, which I'll keep short and sweet:

-With the Guerin deal, the San Jose Sharks are doing their best to look like the 2002 Boston Bruins. Bill Guerin rejoins Joe Thornton and Kyle McClaren. Get ready for this crew to make an impact on the league. Or at the very least, maybe they'll finally kill Richard Zednick.

-Speaking of Guerin maybe I owe John Davidson an apology. I've shit on him before, but if the strategy of signing veteran all stars to a) hope they still have some left in the tank, and b) if not, selling them off to desperate contenders for top draft picks was an intentional ploy, he may be quietly pulling off a Pittsburgh-esque turnaround. When you add what he's earned from dumping Tkachuk and Guerin to last year's #1 overall pick Eric Johnson, emerging sniper David Backes, goalie Manny Legace, and serviceable 2nd line winger Brad Boyes, you have to like how this team is rebuilding.

-And speaking of apologies and Zednick, why not an apology for Garth Snow? Sure, he's is under a fair amount of pressure to make a big deal to get him into the playoffs as a rookie GM, but with the team getting hot at the right time, and Mike Sillinger quietly making a case as the most underrated two-way player in the game, picking up Zednik was nice and Ryan Smyth was a COUP. Given the fact that the Isles have become as solid a team as they have, (what was it- two regulation losses in February?) the addition of these veterans could lead the Islanders to stun somebody in the first round. This team is looking really good, and the less people talk about them, the better they'll be. Lucky for them, they play on Long Island. It seems like there are more Houston Aeros fans these days.

-Atlanta picks up Tkachuk and Zhitnik? Did Waddell sign everything on his scouting report that set off his spellchecker?

-And Bertuzzi goes to Detroit. I guess they figured if any group of people wouldn't mind someone almost murdering a member of the Colorado Avalanche, it'd be Red Wing fans.

As always, thanks to Ben and Jen for picking up the slack while I was running around the country.