That, my friends, was weird.
It’s also the word Coyotes’ defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson used to describe a large number of Sabres fans cheering Arizona goals. Others’ choice of adjectives ranged from awesome to pathetic, and I have to say it’s a little of both.
I wrote earlier this year that I thought it’d be very hard for the Sabres to “earn” the top pick in this June’s NHL Draft, and Buffalo almost made me look foolish in a 14-game losing streak that included an “0-for-January.”
But the truth is it’s quite difficult to be the worst team in the league, and Buffalo still came close to finding its way into second-last (or at least a race to the bottom).
I’ve had a lot of conversations with the Pro-Tank Brigade’s Commander-in-Chief, my good friend and former co-worker Jeremy White of WGR. After he chose the verb “betray” to describe one of their wins, we had a long discussion about the Tank movement. I told him they would finish in last regardless of the odd win here or there, and he was worried.
The challenge here isn’t whether you should be hoping the Sabres lose. The losses are a good thing, and any debate about the team being any good haven’t been alive since January. The question is whether it’s in good taste to be open, loud and even obnoxious about your desire to see the team lose.
Ultimately it won’t be an important question, but I continue to struggle with it. Tonight at the arena was the absolute weirdest experience, to hear fans cheering nearly as loud for the Coyotes goals as home team goals, only without the goal horn and alt-rock goal song. I hated it, even if I understood it. This wasn’t Leafs fans cheering a Leafs goal in the Sabres barn and then getting booed. It was Sabres fans booing Sabres fans.
As someone who’s long told people to relax about sports, that it’s entertainment — See Colin Dabkowski’s incredible Twitter run from tonight treating the game as an art critic — I should just laugh off tonight. It’s not some sort of karmic harbinger of Connor McDavid contracting a highly-contagious strain of flesh-eating bacteria and bringing it to our city. It’s some guys and gals trying to have fun with some horrible, like singing a Nickelback song at a karaoke bar.
More frustration litters the ice. This time the woman with shovel and bucket is not enough. This time they have brought out machines.
— colindabkowski (@colindabkowski) March 27, 2015
But while I’ve come to terms with the losing, and am 100% ready and amped about the worst record in the league, I’m not comfortable cheering for it (not that I would in the press box). And I’m almost as uncomfortable hearing other people do it.