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Second Take with @BradleyGelber – The Season I Gave Up

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The 2013-2014 Buffalo Sabres season is finally over. After what seemed like the never-ending story, the Sabres finished dead last in the league in just about everything. As easy as it would be to sit here and rip apart my favorite hockey team for what was months of anguish and despair, I am taking a different route. Instead of talking about statistics and wins & losses, I am instead going to talk about what this team did to me. How, despite my love and passion for the game of hockey and the NHL, this team made me give up.

I cannot remember a season where I ever even contemplated giving up on the Sabres. I’ve written time and time again how we are a town that doesn’t ever give up on their teams. No matter how bad they are, no matter how much we may die on the inside, we throw on our Bills/Sabres jerseys and keep on keeping on. We don’t have any other choice. It’s all we’ve ever known having never won anything. But to my surprise, I did. Things got so bad this season I actually gave up.

I stopped watching games and not just because I was busy. I’d consciously choose watching TV shows like Chopped, or The Voice, (which don’t get me wrong are both awesome shows, they just don’t usually come before my teams) over Sabres games on a regular basis. Towards the end of the season the only games I’d tune into were the oddly timed games like 12:30pm, or 5pm, where I was literally sitting around doing nothing else… Who am I?

Carolina Hurricanes v Buffalo Sabres

I am in no way, shape, or form a bandwagon fan I just lost interest in this team. Maybe it was a natural defense mechanism that prevented me from hating this team so much that I’d never return? Who knows. Watching the season finale (which yes was another odd start time plus it was the last game so I kinda had to watch) I realized not only did I not really know any stats about the team, I didn’t even know some of the players’ names. Folks I write about sports on a weekly basis. I tweet about sports on a daily, hourly, minutely basis. How the hell do I not know players on my favorite hockey team?!?

Once again, easy to blame this horrendously awful season, but I don’t want to take the easy route. I want to own up to all of you instead. I thought I was better than this. I thought through thick and thin I’d always choose the Sabres over Food Network and Adam Levine. I thought I’d always know who was leading the team in goals and not only every player’s name, but also their jersey number and their favorite food. I thought I’d always be an amateur “expert,” but it appears I’m just a fraud. I let myself down and in turn all of you and for that I am sorry.

I wish I could say that next season would be better, but it appears we are in for another year of suffering. While I wish I could promise that that wouldn’t deter me from eating, sleeping and breathing my Blue & Gold brethren, I’m afraid a promise like that would be wishful thinking at best.

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I see promise in the future. I really do. I understand we have young talent in this organization coupled with a boatload of high draft picks and a new GM that is hungry to win. I get we have a fan favorite coach and an owner that despite a lot of lofty unmet promises, is willing to keep spending. I know the hope is to land McDavid or Eichel and suddenly blossom into a playoff team and Stanley Cup contender. I recognize all of that. But I also need to enjoy watching hockey in order to get that spark back.

Games like Sunday’s season finale (albeit a loss) are fun to watch. Games like that give us fans a reason to keep tuning in and give us a reason to stick around to wait for times to get better. While we may be in for much more darkness before the dawn, I just hope there’s at least a nightlight there to help shine a little bit on the future of hope. Next season, even if we finish dead last in the league again, I want to be able to sit here and write that I watched 90% of the games and know the ins and outs of my favorite hockey team. I want to once again be a Buffalo Sabres “know it all” and choose to DVR my favorite TV shows during hockey season because that’s where my priorities lie. I hope I can do all that and more because this season that certainly wasn’t the case. I’m sorry Buffalo Sabres, but you broke my heart this season and while I will take a great deal of the responsibility for being a bad fan, at the end of the day it’s not me… it’s you.

 

Tweet of the Week: 

You know when a big-timer at ESPN tweets about you, you’re doing something right:

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Have your own opinion on this week’s column or a topic you want featured in next week’s column? Get at me on Twitter: @BradleyGelber

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