Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ten Thousand Goals

Every time the Buffalo Sabres score a goal it makes me happy. Whether the team is tied 0-0 in the 4th overtime of a playoff game against the New Jersey Devils or trailing the Ottawa Senators 5-to-1 late in the third period, I get a jolt of joy. Of course, the level of excitement varies, but I have never not been happy to see the Sabres score a goal.

Thomas Vanek scored a big goal Saturday night in the team's 4-2 win over New Jersey. Not only did he get Buffalo on the board but he registered the 10,000th marker in franchise history. Vanek would later put home #10,003 for insurance.

I was fortunate enough to work for the Sabres' television broadcast for the 2005-2006 season and spent many days trapped in a video vault with, at the time, every single one of the Sabres goals. Never has a Beta VCR and an 8-inch black and white television made one man so happy. I would pour over the footage like it was the Zapruder film and I was Oliver Stone.

I watched Pat Lafontaine rip shots by Jacques Cloutier, wearing his Robocop helmet. I'd grin as Wayne Presley slipped a short-handed, break-away marker past Andy Moog . I actually stood in a room by myself and pumped my fist watching Gilbert Pearrault complete the first hat trick in franchise history, putting the puck into the Golden Seals' empty net. If I were born 6 years earlier and in California at the time, I would have thrown my hat onto the ice.

For me, no goal will ever top what Sabre fans have affectionately come to know as "May Day". Brad May ended 10 years of playoff pain and completed the sweep of the hated Boston Bruins. I was holding my 6-month old sleeping niece Christina at the time of the goal and screamed so loud she may now be in therapy. I have friends who were in a traffic jam on the Rainbow bridge, listening on their radio when May beat Moog. I'm told people just got out of their cars and went around high-fiving complete strangers in celebration. High-fives are uncomfortable and lame, except when Brad May just eliminated the Boston Bruins.

I would say that no Sabre goal-scoring season would ever top Alexander Mogilny's 1992-93 campaign in which he netted 76, but it looks like Thomas Vanek could have something to say about that. Vanek has to score goals on Michelin men, so I wouldn't bank on 76, but his pace is incredible.

I love goals. I can't wait for Nathan Gerbe's 'first', Tim Connolly's 'next' and every single 'playoff' goal of 2009.

So thanks to the Sabres for 10,003 happy moments. I can't think of an organization, outside of the ones who make peanut butter, who have contributed to so much jubilation.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Ten Worst Things I Have Ever Seen

These Are The Ten Worst Things I Have Ever Seen.

10. I once watched a dog fall into a giant bees nest and get stung dozens of times before we could sweep the bees off of his back and face.

9. My brother Jim used to pick his nose and then dip his finger into my cereal. I still have trouble eating cereal with people in the room.

8. When I was 8, my friend Shawn accidentally swore in front of his mother and I watched her hit him so hard he fell off of his chair and got a concussion.

7. My wife found a litter of wild orphan rabbits in the yard and tried to raise them herself. She was able feed them formula with a doll's baby bottle for awhile, but they didn't get their mother's milk long enough. After 3 weeks, one-by-one, the baby rabbits would shake violently and then die. I'll never forget watching my wife cry as she struggled over the thought of putting the poor animals out of their misery.

6. The Dallas Stars skating around with the Stanley Cup in the HSBC Arena.

5. When I was 9, my brother Donny rented the entire 'Faces of Death' video series. It contains hours of footage of people and animals dying in horrible ways. I still have nightmares from the video of a man who accidentally parachuted into an alligator farm and was mauled to death.

4. The Movie "Failure to Launch".

3. My dad, sitting in his van and laughing at me as an elderly woman in our neighborhood who wasn't all there chased me around shrieking, "My son! Come back to me my son!" My dad did eventually come out of the van and grab me before she pulled me into her house.

2. When I was 11, my friend was accidentally shot in the head with a Flare gun in my living room and I watched him almost bleed to death. Our living room rug caught fire. There was a river of blood on the kitchen floor as he screamed, "I'm gonna die!" He lived, but the images from that night will haunt me forever.

1. Sunday's Bills game.