Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Just one more...

Like many Caps fans, watching the Stanley cup playoffs without our team in the mix has been an exercise in both frustration and enthusiasm. Avoiding sports bigamy when your team isn't involved in the playoffs is tough. Still, you want to have a vested interest in rooting for more than just a good game.

So, like many other fans, I picked a horse and follow it with a bit more interest than the rest. Not the passion I follow the Caps with, mind you. Just a little something extra to keep me interested, to make sure I tune in on the nights when I otherwise just might have said "screw it, I'm going out for a beer."

I picked San Jose. And they lost in the second round. Eh, no big deal.

But there was always something else. Something that gnawed at my gut. Something less than noble. I wanted something positively evil.

I wanted the Buffalo Sabres to get CRUSHED this year. Not just beaten, sent packing in a hard fought seven game series. I wanted them broken, their hopes dashed so brutally that the effect would linger like a black cloud over the franchise.

Why do I want this, you ask? Why would I want to wish more misery on a city that has had more than its share of heartbreak?

Is it the Briere-Ovechkin thing? Somewhat. As a hockey player, it's easy to despise someone who 1) takes a dive to get a player ejected, then whines about the event for weeks and 2) is too terrified to get payback by playing physically and instead resorts to one of the dirtiest, least respectful methods a player could use (jabbing a stick into another player's nether region).

Is it the Buffalo "fans" that showed up at the V this year, booing our team in its home finale? That's certainly a small part of it. I have no problem with fans showing up to cheer their team. Okay, that's a lie. But booing a team in its final performance in front of a home crowd AFTER the game is over? Pretty bush league. And the fact that nearly every "hard core" fan had a jersey or T-shirt that was bought this year while the owner claimed to have owned them since childhood is just stupid. We see the Vintage NHL tag on that supposed family heirloom, dummy.

The real problem I have with the Sabres and their fans is this:

They think their suffering somehow outweighs every other fans simply because they're from Buffalo. And that's absolute crap.

The Washington Capitals have been in exactly 1 Stanley Cup finals. They've won exactly 0 games in Stanley Cup finals play. And yet you don't hear Caps fans whining about how they're cursed, or how the league is out to get us, or how a goal shouldn't have counted because an inch of a skate blade was in a crease. Buffalo fans believe that just because they've suffered some gut-wrenching defeats that they're somehow more worthy of greatness, that they're OWED something because their teams haven't won any championships. It's senseless self-entitlement that has absolutely no basis in reality. And it drives me nuts.

All teams with any kind of history have suffered losses that eat at their core. The Caps have been eliminated in 2 of the 10 longest playoff games in NHL history, once to the despised Penguins and once to the Islanders. We've had tremendously talented teams that never got within a sniff of Lord Stanley's cup. We've been in the league only 4 less years than Buffalo. Yet every Sabres fan would have you believe that they've been in misery as long as Chicago Cubs fans. It's absolutely, patently ridiculous.

I can't wait for Ottawa to send the Sabres and their fans packing yet again. And secretly, they can't either... so they'll have even more to whine about next season.