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Bloggers, listen up! September 22, 2010

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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Since I know a lot of other blogs read this blog, I thought you might be interested in this list, which a fellow writer put together for a newsletter that I edit. I’ve taken some liberties with it since not all the items applied to us, but I still think it’s helpful. Hopefully you will too.

The title of her article was: Never Run Out of Blog Topics

She talked about how some of the items were more serious than others when you first looked at them, but how some of the ideas could turn into gold for you, depending on what you’re blogging about, even if the idea seemed silly to begin with. Here’s her list of ways to never run out of blog topics-

1.  What is your team doing?  How do you feel about it?  Are they attempting anything new?

2.  What inspires you about their play or that of a specific player?  What as a fan keeps you going?  How do you make it through to the end of a bad run or the end of the season?

3.  Pick a specific issue of hockey and describe how you feel about it, the parts you like and the parts you can’t stand. What rules would you change if you could?

4.  Where are you as a fan right now?  Where is that, in comparison to where you were six months ago?  A year?  Five years?  Ten?  How has your fandom changed?

5.  Write about games, players, teams, or coaches that have influenced you.

6.  And now for something completely different:  write about stories your family or friends told you about their hockey experiences. Write about strange experiences you’ve had.

7.  Tell your own story.  How did you become a fan? Find a new angle.  How did others help you become a fan?

8.  Query your audience.  You don’t have to ask them about what specific topics they want you to cover if you don’t want to.  Ask them if you should henna your hair.  Ask them what their favorite food is. Just do whatever you can to get some dialogue going between yourself and your readers.

9.  Choose a selection of pictures, and write about them.  They might have a common theme, or you might make the connections yourself.  Write your thoughts.  Write some facts.  Write a story.

10.  Invite guests.  Your friends have unexpected knowledge or talents.  Show them off.

Special thanks go out to my writer friend Victoria Janssen. You can check her out at http://www.victoriajanssen.com.


What should we expect? September 21, 2010

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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I’ve been reading a lot of preseason predictions, both from other bloggers and from the mainstream media. Some prognosticators, particularly amongst the bloggers, are angry the Sabres didn’t make more moves to improve the team (and they have every right to be), and don’t think the Sabres will be much better than they were last year. Much of the mainstream media is picking the Sabres to finish around sixth in the Eastern Conference.

Where does that leave us? Here are my thoughts:

  • If the Sabres are “no better” than last year, that’s not such a bad thing. They finished third in the conference, and were – what – one point out of second? Yes, some other teams in the conference have gotten stronger in terms of personnel, but others have gotten weaker – that’s the nature of the game. So if the Sabres aren’t better – and I don’t think they’re worse – that doesn’t seem like a tragedy to me.
  • Finishing sixth in the conference is pretty respectable. It’s not home ice advantage, but did that help us last year? Did not having it hinder the teams who finished in seventh and eighth last year? No.
  • Preseason predictions are just that – preseason predictions. Before everyone gets all upset and throws Darcy and Co under the bus, let’s see what the team can do. There’s a fair amount of new personnel on this team, and you have to admit a few things:
    • They appear to have addressed the softness issue. People have been bitching for years about how the Sabres could get pushed around. With the addition of guys like McCormick and Morrisonn that hopefully shouldn’t be a problem.
    • They did go out and get some guys in free agency. That’s been another sore spot for fans. No, they didn’t run out and sign Ilya Kovalchuk, but we all knew that wasn’t going to happen. What they did do is sign three very capable veteran players. All three should help the team. None are flashy, and yes, none are 50-goal scorers, but the team finished eighth in scoring last season. Scoring wasn’t the problem.

So if I say scoring wasn’t the problem and that the Sabres didn’t pick up a scoring winger and I think that’s ok, what do I think the problem was? Competitive spirit – IN THE PLAYOFFS (in the regular season I think it was fine, otherwise they would’ve lost more 2-1 games). And no, I don’t think it’s something that left with Drury and Briere. Truth be told, I don’t think it was there even with those guy in their last year. Before that, yes, but in the last year, especially during the playoffs, no.

Can that problem be fixed? I don’t know. Will these three new guys help? I don’t know. But having three more veterans in the locker room can’t hurt. These guys have all gone through playoff runs and played for successful teams – they all know what it takes to win. Maybe their attitude will rub off on the other guys who’ve been here for longer, maybe it won’t, but again, it can’t hurt.

My conclusion? I’m willing to see what the team can do. I haven’t seen even a minute of camp. I’ve read a few articles and listened to a few interviews, so I can’t say that the attitude has changed. Besides that, talk is cheap. But let’s give them a chance.

How to like the jerseys September 19, 2010

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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I’d like to give my readers a handy-dandy guide for how to like the new Sabres jerseys. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be enamored of them in no time!

  1. Forget that this is the 42,938,169th time in the past 15 years that the team has changed jerseys. Therefore, new jerseys=excitement!
  2. The silly racing stripey thingies on the home/away jerseys? Think of them as sweat-wicking bands, not ugly piping. They’ll be easier to ignore that way.
  3. That hellacious number design on the back of the 40th anniversary jersey is actually a cool Spider-Man motif.
  4. Opponents will be confused by all the different jerseys and have no idea who they’re playing.
  5. Don’t like how the blues are different on the 40th anniversary jersey and the regular jersey? Simple reason for that – guys look cool in sky blue!
  6. So how about those gray patches under the arms of the white jerseys? Hey – it’s better than the white turning gray with dirt and grime during the game. This patch will hide all that!
  7. Steve Montador looks hot in whatever jersey you put him in.
  8. They finally gave us cool laces on the front!
  9. Tyler Ennis/Nathan Gerbe etc don’t look quite as bite-sized in the new uniforms. Maybe the jerseys were designed specifically with our smaller players in mind. Whoa – just took a second look at some of the bigger guys. They look like hulks out there! The Jolly Blue Giant is quite frightening!
  10. AND THE BEST WAY TO LEARN TO LIKE THE JERSEYS: Remember this. In the white jersey Ryan Miller will blend in with his surroundings like a chameleon and the other team will shoot right into his chest protector all night long.

You’re welcome.

The Rook Learns “The System” September 16, 2010

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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In today’s installment of the Rook’s experiences at training camp, we find out what happens when Rook is exposed to “The System”…

[everybody is gathered in the video room]

Big Scary Head Coach: Ok, boys, you’ve had a couple of days on the ice. Today we’re going to teach you about “The System”.

[revered silence falls over the assemblage]

Big Scary Head Coach: We’re going to do something a little different this year, guys. We’re going to change the game. [players look around worriedly at each other] The NHL is becoming a game of bigger, faster, and we only see one way to win: to take the opponents’ games, and shove it right back in their face. No more of this zone coverage, no more of this man-on-man. We’re not even going to have forward lines and defense pairings working on their own. We play as a five-man unit.

[he begins mapping out scenarios on several whiteboard templates of the ice surface as the players murmur to each other]

Smitty: What the f— is he talking about?

Dougie: Hell if I know.

Rook: I get it.

[both turn to him in surprise] Smitty/Dougie: You DO?!?

Rook: Yeah. It’s not that hard. [he points to one of the white boards] See, when you come up the right side I’m gonna stretch the D out and cross…

Revered Veteran Captain: You’re doing good so far, Rook. Then I’d throw it in the open lane.

Rook: Then I’m gonna fill in for one of our D so they can come down the side boards to take the shot.

Revered Veteran Captain: Exactly. Nice job, bud.

Rook: Thanks, man.

[Smitty and Dougie look on, astonished]

Rook: It’s all there, you can see it if you look at how Coach is drawing it up.

[Smitty and Dougie stare at the whiteboard dubiously]

Rook: See, I’ll show you another one. That one. [he indicates a play mapped out underneath the other one] For that one all three of the forwards are gonna circle around at the blue line, then the center is gonna charge, then put a drop pass to the left winger, who’ll drop it to the D, then both the center and the winger are gonna run the net while the right winger swings around behind and the other D stays back to cover our zone in case something goes wrong.

Smitty: What?

Revered Veteran Captain: You got it, kid.

Rook: [smiles]

Revered Veteran Captain: [leans over to Slightly Less Scary Assistant Coach and starts whispering to him]

Rook: [to Smitty and Dougie] Want me to explain it again?

Dougie: Not right now. Lemme look at ’em a little, see if I can figure out what you’re talking about.

Big Scary Head Coach: I’m gonna go through these scenarios one by one. I’ll explain in detail what each guy should do in each situation, and then answer any questions you have. We’ll go through more of these as camp wears on, so don’t worry if this isn’t clear now. [he goes through each diagram, then dismisses the team]

[Rook stands to leave, Slightly Less Scary Assistant Coach and Revered Veteran Captain stop him]

Slightly Less Scary Assistant Coach: Revered Veteran Captain told me you’ve really caught on to “The System”.

Rook: [shrugging] Yeah, I guess so. It doesn’t seem very hard.

[Slightly Less Scary Assistant Coach and Revered Veteran Captain share a look]

Slightly Less Scary Assistant Coach: Would you mind coming back in later on today? We’re going to be having a special session with a few of the players to look at some of the plays we’ve drawn up before we present them to rest of the boys.

Rook: They want ME to help THEM? Holy crap holy crap holy crap. Um, Sure.

Revered Veteran Captain: Cool. [claps Rook on the shoulder] See you then, kid. Go get some lunch.

Rook: Yeah…

The Rook gets on the ice September 12, 2010

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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In today’s post we’ll go inside the Rook’s head on his first day on the ice during rookie camp. Remember, italics denote internal thoughts.

Rook: [walking into the locker room] I have my own locker! That won’t last long. Once the vets arrive they’ll kick our asses to a storage closet or something. But for now, cool! [looks left, sees another player] Hey, man. I’m Rook.

Player 1 (we’ll call him Smitty): Hey, I’m Smitty.

[they both start getting dressed]

Player 2 (we’ll call him Dougie): [jerking his head in their general direction] Dougie.

Smitty: Smitty.

Rook: Rook. Hey, I’ve got friends! Well, besides my roommate, but he’s kind of a freak.

[after getting dressed, the trio head for the ice]

Smitty: Wanna toss one around?

Rook & Dougie: Sure.

[they pass the puck around and greet other players as they come out]

Big Scary Head Coach: All right boys, gather ’round.

[players scurry over to the bench and crowd in]

Big Scary Head Coach: Welcome to rookie camp. We’re gonna work on some fundamentals, do some drills, have some scrimmages, and see what you guys are made of.

[players nod, grunt, murmur]

Big Scary Head Coach: We’re gonna divide you into groups and do some easy shooting drills first.

Rook: Shooting. Yay!

Big Scary Head Coach: Then we’ll move on to some more defensive drills.

Rook: Defense. Boooo.

[players skate around for a while]

Big Scary Head Coach: Hey, Rook, come over here for a minute.

Rook: *gulp* [skates over to BSHC]

Big Scary Head Coach: [pulls out his white board and starts making arrows and notations]

Rook: What the f is he doing?

Big Scary Head Coach: Next time, I want you to do this, [indicates one set of lines and arrows] when the other guys do this [indicates another set of lines and arrows].

Rook: Sure thing, Coach. [skates back to take his place in line] I’m screwed.

Tomorrow: The Rook learns about “The System”.

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