1). Hockey Brought My Family Together
Now my family really doesn't get along any better than any other dysfunctional family, but the Buffalo Sabres have really brought us together and given us at least some common ground with each other.
Every single one of us has been to a game in the last year, and we watch pretty much every game on TV. Not necessarily together, but at least we have the talking points after games. My Mom and the older of my two younger sisters both understand the game on more than a rudimentary basis.
I was able to show each and every single one of them the joys of going to HSBC arena and being among the wonderful people of Buffalo. I gave my dad a little bit of his youth back, and my youngest sister has graduated to die-hard fandom.
2). The Relationships I have Forged
I don't even know where I would be now without the Buffalo Sabres. In mid 2007 I joined the Sabres message boards, and from there made probably a half dozen or more of the best friends I have ever had. And I think I can say that with sincerity even if I only get to see them once a month or less.
People like Phil and Carl and Caroline and others I talk to more than anyone. There is more than that common bond of Sabre fandom. I would absolutely go to bat for any one of these people if necessary. There is no doubt that these past few years have been the best of my short life both in terms of the relationships I have formed and the experiences I have shared. This may well be the shortest section, but only because words cannot do it justice.
3). The Plaza, The Arena, and Everywhere in Between. In Short, Home.
Life has a tendency to make fools of us all. Frequently we don't know who we are, what we're doing, or where we're going. I am no different, but somewhere along the way, whether it be the area itself, or the people that reside there, I became clear of one thing. I belong in Buffalo.
We all have dreams, and I think it is rare that we find that some of them aren't that difficult to accomplish. Me? I want to live in Buffalo. I feel at home there, I feel connected to the people, friends, acquaintances and strangers. I feel like I belong there. I want to be part of the solution, part of the resurgence, one of the precious few that goes back. I was born there, I spent my first years there, and I intend to spend my last ones there too, whenever they may come.
4). Man, Myth, Legend, Rick Jeanneret
I am fortunate as a Buffalo fan in that I grew up listening to the best in the business, Van Miller, and Rick Jeanneret. Other hockey fans cannot explain and cannot approach the connection we Sabres fans feel to Rick Jeanneret. When his voice raises an octave, it resonates within the heart of all of us, and when he lets loose that yell and some bit of hilarity, well I can't think of a time when I'm honestly happier.
The worst night mare I have had and have is that he will retire and pass on without seeing the Sabres win the Stanley Cup.
5). Playoff Hockey
There was a time when I thought playoff football was the pinnacle of sports excitement. Then I realized that I was standing in Death Valley, looking up at Mt. Everest. From Sabres - Flyers in 06 to Nucks - Stars in 07 to Flames - Sharks in 08. Some of my fondest college memories are staying in on a Saturday night and firing up Hockey Night in Canada on CBC.
There is a certain pleasure in settling down to watch Coach's Corner and Don Cherry knowing you have no responsibilities for the night. There is little better than a game that is climbing into its third overtime and showing no signs of stopping, and then finally seeing the adulation when someone finally puts one in.
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