We’re going a little ‘off the cuff’ today with this post, and it’ll have almost nothing to do with web hosting. About the only thing this post has to do with hosting, Hawk Host, or even the internet in general is that we have an office in Buffalo. Everybody here loves hockey, specifically Buffalo Sabres hockey. When you live in a city where the average temperature on any given winter day is around 20F and had it’s prime back in the late 1800s/early 1900s, you need to find something to do. That is why we’re known as a drinking town with a hockey problem. But I’ll be damned if you can find a group of people with more pride in their city, or sports teams, than us Buffalonians.
So what motivated me to write this post? For starters, I’ve lived in Buffalo for nearly 24 years. My father drove ambulances in the city for years, and my mother ran a local pharmacy, they met in a Buffalo bar and were married in Buffalo. Both of their parents were born and raised here. I grew up wearing Sabres pajamas and Buffalo Bills (our football team) t-shirts. I watched the Bills go to 4 straight super bowls (and lose them all!), and have seen the Sabres best and worst years.
Back to the point, last week the Sabres held a development game where all of our top prospects (some current players, some recent draft picks) played against each other in a regular game format. It was $10 a ticket, beer was $3.50, and food was discounted. For a night out and the chance to see professional hockey I figured there was no going wrong. Our CTO, Cody, joined me and we both went to the arena with measured expectations. We figured at most there’d be 1,000 people there to watch our future superstars. It was a 90F degree day in the middle of July, after all.
Attendance ended up being a little over 5,000. First Niagara Center itself has a capacity of 18,690 people. My fuzzy math tells me that the arena was roughly 30% full. 5,000 people, with lives to live, jobs to work, and responsibilities to attend drove into the city in the middle of July, during one of the hottest summers on record, to watch a hockey game. You may be thinking “well isn’t hockey a winter sport?”. It very much is, and that makes this turnout even more remarkable. Remember what I said about the pride we have in our city and teams? I think you’re starting to get the idea.
Walking into the arena felt just like a regular season game. There was blue and gold everywhere, fans talking hockey and expressing how excited they were for this upcoming season. Concession lines were wall to wall, goals were cheered as if we’d just won a game against the Montreal Canadians (a bitter rival of ours), and the players were going at each other like they had something to prove. After all, these guys are fighting for a job and a well paying one at that. The game ended with the blue team winning, even after gold pulled their goalie (blue was able to get an easy empty-netter). The game wasn’t about the winners or losers though, those guys were out there to play professional hockey, earn a roster spot, and prove they have what it takes to take the Sabres to the Stanley Cup.
There are currently 83 days until opening night in the NHL, and just like a kid before Christmas you can be certain I’ll be counting them down one by one. Until then, we’ll continue reading all we can, watching clips from last year, and re-watching games just to get our fix. Every day I come into work Cody has a new hockey fact or tidbit for me, he and I are going to need to start working on an encyclopedia soon to write down all we’re absorbing. There is a bar around the corner from here and some people there know us simply as “The Hockey Guys”, a title I wear with honor. I’d bet some of them don’t know our real names, and that is perfectly fine with me. I’ll be a hockey guy until the day I die.
I’ll end this with a phrase I heard recently about our beloved city, which says “America doesn’t want you and Canada won’t take you”. My reaction?