Part 2: The Obsession With Chris Drury Leads to Thoughts on Buffalo

“We think, and many people think, that the town needs to win a major sports championship, to correct the inferiority complex in the psyche in the community.”

-Byron Brown, Mayor of Buffalo, NY

Welcome to Buffalo, New York.

So, the very worst has occurred.  The Buffalo Sabres have lost our super star co-captains to free agency.  Both Daniel Briere, and my beloved Chris Drury have moved on to new teams.  Personally, I took the news surprisingly hard.  I’m not going to lie, there were tears at Kate Manor when the news broke that Chris Drury had signed with the Rangers.  Actual tears.  For a sports star.  The loss of a man I have never met, but who I have crowned as my zen-hockey hero, reduced me to tears.  As I sat on my couch, absurdly crying, I realized that I wasn’t crying for Chris Drury.  I was crying for Buffalo, and for the frustration I feel living here, and the for my honest hope that Buffalo can thrive as a community.

It seems that Chris Drury chose a near identical deal to the one he turned down in Buffalo, to play for the Rangers in NYC.  There are a million reasons he might have made this decision.  I couldn’t begin to speculate on all of the factors involved with his choice, but the one thing I can tell you with absolute certainty is that Buffalonians took his choice personally.  I took his choice personally.  When I realized that Chris Drury was leaving Buffalo, my very first impulse was to blame the town.  My hackles went up.  How dare he leave us?  Why does no one understand the charm of Buffalo?  What is wrong with Buffalo?

In conversations online with fellow Buffalo hockey fans, I have come to more fully understand how deeply this community feels it needs to win a championship.  Don’t forget, in the early nineties the Buffalo Bills lost FOUR Super Bowls IN A ROW.  Four times.  In a row.  That is a tough pill for any community to swallow, but even tougher for poor, scrappy Buffalo.  This is a town aching to be recognized, begging for validation and, and starving for victory.

This town is insane about sports.  Nuts.  I got completely wrapped up in it this spring.  The Buffalo Sabres charmed the hell out of me and I finally start loving Buffalo.  The city came alive. I saw the very best of what this city can be: hopeful, bold, joyful, and brave.  But, in the aftermath of the underwhelming playoff performance, and now the free agent debacle, I’m seeing the worst of Buffalo: furious, desperate, insecure, and whiny.  Now, this is all stuff that I might not have noticed even last year, but this year, I am all over the sports news. I have invested myself in what the city clearly holds most dear, Buffalo sports, and I have to say, it’s freaking me out.

Sadly, I don’t think that it will be the collective fan enthusiasm that we as a community will remember from this year of hockey.  I think that all we will think about when we consider the 06-07 hockey season is the heartbreak of watching our captains willingly leave as soon as they had the chance.  I have never, ever, ever, ever heard anyone talk about how enthusiastic the town was about the Bills in the early nineties.  It’s all about “wide right“.  I have NEVER heard anyone talk about the ’99 Sabres, without wailing “No Goal“.  No, this town absolutely clings to lost championships.  I don’t point fingers of blame.  I’m a Buffalonian now, and as such, I carry the burden of our perpetually losing ways, right along side the born and bred.  (And if you want proof, may I remind you that actual tears of sorrow were shed at my house yesterday.)

I think that Buffalo needs to surrender the OH MY GOD WE’LL DIE WITHOUT A CHAMPIONSHIP thing.  It’s not working for us.  At all.  The best thing about this town is it’s grass roots, tenacity.  No sports championship is ever going to save us.  We have to save ourselves, from the bottom up.  It’s the only way.  Winning the Stanley Cup or the Super Bowl is pretty hard to do, and worse, it is something no amount of fan appreciation will ever accomplish.  We can’t will our teams to victory with the sheer force of our fandom.  We can’t.  I’m not saying that a championship wouldn’t be awesome for this community (hell, it would be the greatest parade the world has ever known), but I think we are doing ourselves a true disservice by insisting that we need a championship.

Many Buffaloinians wear the MUST WIN badge with pride, including apparently, our mayor.  Many Buffalonians would argue that our hunger for glory is our greatest strength, and I can agree with that to a point, but really, at the end of the day, I believe this “hunger for glory” is just a gigantic chip on Buffalo’s shoulder.  For some reason, we think that the Stanley Cup will take our baggage away.  It won’t.

Now, I would never, ever want to take even a little away from the passion with which we all cheered this spring, but please, let’s not confuse passion and desperation.  It’s a fine line, but it’s incredibly important.  Passion is hope and vitality.  Desperation is just pure shame.  The love of Sabres hockey has swung from passion to desperation pretty damn quickly over the last month.  I don’t think this town deserves to treat itself this way. I really don’t.  We can do better than this Buffalo.  We owe it to ourselves to do better.

And one last thing, I think that Chris Drury was very uneasy with his role as “Savior of Buffalo”.  He seems like a pretty shy guy, who, at the end of the day would just like to be another anonymous dude.  As much as it hurts to say it, I don’t think he was comfortable with us.  Danny loved us for worshiping him, but Chris was wary.  Let’s not feel badly about this.  He just wasn’t the guy for us.  Not only was he not our guy, but worse, it turns out HE WAS A RANGER ALL ALONG! Yesterday’s sorrow has devolved into today’s acceptance.  I will desperately miss my sexy, passionate warrior, but sadly, Chris Drury has left me no choice; he is now dead to me.

R.I.P, my beloved.

It seems the learning curve on being a Buffalo sports fan is very sharp indeed.


Part One: The Obsession With Chris Drury Leads to Thoughts on Music


10 Responses to “Part 2: The Obsession With Chris Drury Leads to Thoughts on Buffalo”

  1. 1 Becky July 2, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    Good article Kate! I agree! I like your picture better than mine too…at 7AM the best I could manage was 2 black “x”s over theier faces, and it doesn’t show up well :) Maybe I’ll go mess with it some more.

  2. 2 Kate July 3, 2007 at 12:14 am

    Becky, I tried to stick with the horns and the pitch-fork, but I couldn’t do it! I don’t think I can hate him! Maybe later, but not today.

  3. 3 Heather B. July 3, 2007 at 12:23 am

    Kate, don’t give into the idea that you have to hate the guy. It’s not necessary and secretly, most of the fans will be cheering for Chris when he returns to Buffalo, even if it is in a cruddy Rangers jersey.

    You really did pick a weird season to get thrown into Buffalo sports. The sad thing is, I think the city did pretty well with the loss in the playoffs considering how much “IF WE DON’T WIN THIS YEAR WE NEVER WILL!” talk there was before the playoffs started. But losing both captains has pushed everyone over the edge they were teetering on and it ain’t pretty. I think the “we need a championship” thing is charming to a degree, but it’s ridiculous to base your entire feeling of worth on it because ultimately, we have no control over it.

    Hey, atleast we can look forward to all the attention we’ll get from the boys at the home opener in October :-)

  4. 4 Heather B. July 3, 2007 at 12:26 am

    By the way, there doesn’t seem to be a link to a certain Sabres oriented blog on your blogroll. This can only mean one thing: Blogging as I know it is over! No one is ever going to read my blog again! I’m going to be the worst blog on the internet next season! I’m going to have to pack up my blog and move to Hamilton! The internet’s sky is faaaaallllliiiiiiiing!

    (Yeah, I need to go to bed.)

  5. 5 Julia July 3, 2007 at 8:43 am

    One observation I had about the difference between the end of last season and the end of this season, is that last year it felt like we all had something to hope for. Our players would come off the injured list, we would have a stronger team, we had what it takes to get the Cup, and so 2005-06 may have ended with a downer but it just further boosted Sabres fan into the stratosphere for the next season.

    And that’s why the end of 2006-07 is that much harder a fall. My long-time hockey fan husband said to me, “You’re a hockey fan in Western New York. You will experience great disappointment when it comes to the Sabres, but you will remain a fan. That’s how we roll.”

  6. 6 KevinP July 3, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Welcome to the world of the Buffalo sportsfan. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave…

  7. 7 Becky July 3, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    I’ve never been one to boo ex-Sabres, but I’m not beyond secretly hoping that their new-found team tanks and they wish they had stayed in Buffalo…A sort of “Serves you right”.

  8. 8 Leigh July 12, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    As a Sox fan, I feel for your bottomed out sports fan-nedness. I won’t say anything patrionizing like “Hang in There.” I really enjoyed this post!!

  9. 9 G$ July 16, 2007 at 10:54 am

    “I believe this “hunger for glory” is just a gigantic chip on Buffalo’s shoulder.”

    “Passion is hope and vitality. Desperation is just pure shame.”

    This is really good stuff.

  1. 1 City Racing 3D Hack Trackback on February 6, 2015 at 6:13 am

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