I hate the Goo Goo Dolls. Yes, I really do. Burn me at the stake for being a Buffalonian and not enjoying Longer Way Down and Irish (yes, I’m purposely misspelling those titles). They are overrated, and if they weren’t from Buffalo, they would be just a flash in the past. Why am I bringing up A Boy Meets Goober or whatever?
I always put Drury and the Goo Goo Dolls together. Yes, it has to do with the Sabres little anthem from 2005-2007. I’ll be honest, the track (Better Days) kind of grew on me. Sure, we’ve had way too many video montages of Johnny Goo and the Sabres, but that track does take me back to those two years. It takes me back to Drury. In my 9 years away from Buffalo, I really do wish I’d lived in the area during that time. No, it doesn’t have to do with Kelly Holcomb or JP Losman but because of the metamorphosis the town went through. Don’t get me wrong, I had the hockey package for both those years and played the telephone game with my friends from back home about how great the team was, but I’d be stupid to not admit that it’s way different being in the (716) than the (212).
For that time period, Drury was my favorite player on the squad. I know it’s easy to look back now and give Danny his dues because he’s still the same player while Drury broke down. However, I think Drury had a hand in making Danny a great player. Briere was an afterthought when he came here. He was nothing more than a gifted player who was waived by his former team.
I’m sure if you asked Briere what sort of impact Drury (stop me if you heard this, but he was a proven winner by the time he got to Buffalo) was on his career, he’d say it was major. That’s why I think for that run, Drury was better. He was the unquestioned leader while Briere was a Jedi in training. The winning part is what really pulled me into liking Drury. For the first time in my lifetime as a Sabres/Bills fan, we had a player who was the cornerstone of the team, who actually had a championship on his resume. No, I’m not talking about London Fletcher or Rob Niedermayer.
Let’s be honest, what is the biggest flaw in Buffalo sports? We’ve never won a championship. I gravitated to Drury for being a winner. I know some fans roll their eyes when they hear about how he’s a winner, but he was and that’s what made him more popular than Briere for me.
Sure, the young girls liked Danny because he looked like a teenager, but if you were an old-school Buffalo fan, maybe a guy in his late 20′s or older, Drury was your guy. The image of him blocking shots and talking during locker room cleanout day with a mouth fall of stiches made him a throwback who I enjoyed watching. He was a winner and he made Buffalo fans, who felt like losers, feel like they had something special with him. When you cheered for him, you felt like you were cheering for a winner and not someone who you were hoping would win. Does that make sense?
When I heard he retired on Twitter, I was kind of taken back by how there was a lot of positive tweets about him. I’m sure my shock had to do with the constant battle between people who couldn’t let 7.1.07 go (Who? Me?) and ones who hated talking about it. If you want to really put Drury’s career in perspective, he reminded me a lot of Doug Flutie. Like Doug, Drury was only here for 3 years (excluding the lockout), but you would have thought they both were here for 20 years. They were key components in helping to revitalize their franchises, but then it all ended too soon probably. Maybe for the better in Drury’s case.
A number of people on Twitter asked about whether Drury should be in the Sabres Hall of Fame. At first, I didn’t think so, but when you use the Pat LaFontaine logic, it kind of makes sense. Patty was here longer, but due to injuries, he played in only 268 games while Drury played in 234 games. Now, goal- wise? It gets bad for Chris. Patty almost doubled the amount (158 to 85). However, if you look at Pat’s yearly stats, he really had only three good seasons while the rest were mired by injuries. That’s 3 great seasons to 2. When you look at the teams, it’s not even close. LaFontaine’s teams only won 1 playoff series while Drury’s teams won four series, a division title, and Tom Golisano’s favorite trophy, the (Mini) President’s Trophies. It’s a decent debate.
I think when you look at everything, you have to let your eyes and emotions decide for you.
Would you be reading this post if Chris Drury didn’t play in Buffalo? Would you be a blogger if Captain Clutch didn’t score with 7 seconds left against the Rangers? Would hockey be as huge if Drury never came to Buffalo? I doubt it. Hell, if you ask me, you can put him and Golisano in the conversation about saving hockey. OK, I may be going overboard, but you get the point. It’s that Flutie factor.
Anyway, I really hope the Sabres at some point honor him. Not this year but maybe within five years. Maybe after Briere retires, they can honor both guys at the same time. I think it would be nice if the fans can give him a standing ovation one last time. God knows he won’t be getting it in Calgary or New York. Even the biggest Drury critic or crazed Drury fan would like that. I know that some of you hate reading about Drury and his story, and sure, “Remember when?” may be the lowest form of conversation, but when you relive “Better Days”, it’s worth it.