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Rochester, NY • United States • 29 Years Old • Male

No One to Look up To

Posted 10:27 AM ET | Comments 33
As kids, and even as adults, we often have the need to look up to our favorite athletes. Being 28, my first hero was #16, Pat LaFontaine. What more could you ask for from a hero? I suppose I could think of one thing; to be able to look up to my hero everytime I walk into my church, The HSBC Arena. That one thing was given to me two years ago when I was able to witness his jersey being hoisted into the rafters, giving him hockey immortality.

With what has transpired in the NHL recently, its hard to imagine that my children, our children, will ever have the opportunity to witness this type of honor. Who will they look up to when their favorite players leave the city they had built a bond with, created memories with, and touched, more deeply than they may know. Free agency, the way it is now, has ruined this aspect of our game.

This is a highly regarded honor, and I don't believe it should be bestowed upon anyone that comes through a city. I am not arguing that it should be given every year, every 5 years or every ten years. It is something rare, and something that absolutely needs to be earned. What I am arguing, is that the opportunity to witness a player show greatness, and build a legacy in one city, is slowly slipping away.

In the future, will there be true heroes raised to the rafters, or will there be players given this honor simply for the sake of giving it? If the latter applies, hockey will truly have sunk into a tragic abyss. No more will we be able to tell our children, or grandchildren of the many years we spent watching our favorite players skate up and down the ice of the very building we were in. What will we talk about at intermission? A simple question perhaps, but really, what will we talk about? Who will we, literally, look up to?
Filed Under:   NHL  
July 24, 2007 10:47 AM ET | Delete
Amen, Cup! Could not agree more. My hero is not in the rafters, but still etched in my head, and always will be. Mike Ramsey is the player I always wanted to be like. I tried to base my style around his, and for the most part, it worked. He stayed here for a while, and I was sad to see him go, but I'll always remember the hip checks thrown, and the shots blocked. I don't see anyone that has been in Buffalo the last 10 years as being worthy of this status, and, as you said, it is likely there won't be any in the near future. I hope I'm wrong, but it's looking like I won't be.
July 24, 2007 10:57 AM ET | Delete
I side with you...Patty was (obviously) my favorite player growing up, and still is. He was what should be honored in hockey. Skill, leadership, sportsmanship, class on and off the ice, and a desire to relate to the fans. Not to say today's players are void of these characteristics, but it's an ugly trend in sports overall to worry about #1 first...which is often the opposite of loyalty.
July 24, 2007 10:58 AM ET | Delete
This is the sad reality of modern sports. The age of free agency has taken many things away from the game. We no longer see a player spend his entire career with one team. Gone are the days of the dynasty and literally decades of good teams. You'll be lucky if you can consistantly hang on to 2-3 good players. It has been exagerated in the NHL and NFL due to the constraints of the salary cap, but all major sports have suffered the same fate. We'll always have the team to cheer for and players that we like but we won't have icons of the game. It's just sad.
July 24, 2007 11:52 AM ET | Delete
I wouldn't put ALL the blame on the league. If a player loves where he is and is winning, then it's up to that player to say, "hey, I'm already set for life, I'll take a MINOR pay cut to stay and finish my career here, because I like the organization and the fans." What's a difference of a couple million when you're already making a eight figure salary? Crosby just did it with the Pen's. It's more on the players shoulders then the leagues. I feel the free agency is put in place so the organization doesn't have the players by the balls anymore. The player holds the cards.
July 24, 2007 12:05 PM ET | Delete
So, go back to a system where the players were treated like cattle-could be traded on a whim, or bound to a team no matter what? Players are people too. Maybe as a kid a guy wanted to be a New York Ranger or a Montreal Canadien...what about his dreams?
July 24, 2007 12:06 PM ET | Delete
Maybe a guy has a life in a city and doesn't want to be traded and uproot his family? back in the old days, well, TS...that was unfair to the player.
July 24, 2007 12:08 PM ET | Delete
Hey, at least you can look up without getting dizzy like Pat.
July 24, 2007 12:17 PM ET | Delete
Thanks for all of the replies....Bossy and Jsaquella make very good points. I just feel that the system now is not conducive to seeing players stay with the same team for a lot of years. There are always exceptions, but I just feel it is much less likely today than in generations past.
July 24, 2007 1:06 PM ET | Delete
I don't want to be one of those guys that talk up his team, but here it goes anyways. The "new" NHL will NEVER have another team win consecutive Stanley Cups. The Islanders in the 80's, and even Montreal before them, will never happen again. Players are constanly on the move. The sale of jerseys helps the organization make money. What ever happened to winning the Cup to make all the money? Now a days it's all merchandise not pride. On the other side of the coin, it does spread the talent all over the league and not just 2 or 3 teams that dominate every season. It's a totally differenty monster now. Either way, I still and will always love this game. I just can't wait for them to make the nets bigger.....LOL. More goals equals more fans and that's a recipe for more money. Why do you think the shootout was put into place?
July 24, 2007 2:02 PM ET | Delete
This reads like a thinly veiled bemoaning of the losses of Briere and Drury. You guys need to let it go. They both only played in Buffalo for three years so their departure doesn't signal the end of team loyalty or the retiring of numbers or that we've seen the last dynasty. It just means that a team has to be willing to pay their players at least close to market value. Don't blame free agency and trades because Lafontaine spent more time with NYI than he did the Sabres and yet his number is retired in Buffalo.
July 24, 2007 2:18 PM ET | Delete
Unlike Bossy I have to disagree that a team can no longer win back to back championships. Look no further than the NE Patriots. I mean I hate that team but you have to commend the organization for their great success over the past decade. Couple that with the San Antonio Spurs. How can you say it cant be done? I mean it is without question far more difficult than in previous years but it can be done.
July 24, 2007 2:26 PM ET | Delete
There are still athletes like that out there...Mike Modano, Niklas Lidstrom, Olaf Kolzig, Jarome Iginla, to name a few
July 24, 2007 2:40 PM ET | Delete
Hey Professor, I think if this was as you classify it, I would have written it long ago. I was very open and blunt about my feelings for that,. In fact, I lay no blame on Briere or Drury. The blog was simply my feelings on this topic. What prompted me to write this, was watching the game from 2 seasons ago where LaFontaine's jersey was retired. It simply got me thinking. Thanks for your wonderful insight though. Interestingly enough, I may classify your comment as a "thinly veiled", cathartic way for you to demean the Sabres and their fans. So to you my friend, I say "Get over it."
July 24, 2007 2:42 PM ET | Delete
Hockeyisgod: Good point, and I know there still are players like this. Sakic and Sundin also come to mind.
July 24, 2007 3:55 PM ET | Delete
How is it cathartic for me to demean your team and its fans? Take a few seconds to look up a word before you try to use it to make yourself sound smart. My perspective has been forged over the last month as I read Buffalo fans complain about big market clubs and overspending. Then your blog appears about free agency robbing fans of their favorite players and players of the ability to build a legacy with one team. You may not have invoked their names but Drury and Briere leaving has obviously influenced your pessimistic view of the NHL.
July 24, 2007 4:31 PM ET | Delete
I think a lot of this is just age. You're getting older so it seems to you that players don't stay in a city that long. When I was a kid my heroes wore orange and black and I cheered for everyone of them. If you look back at those cup teams from the seventies, very few of those players had ten year careers in Philly. These were CUP TEAMS! Sure, Clarke and Barber stayed with the team for the entirety of their careers but almost all of those guys had shortened careers or were traded. Back then, I thought they were Flyer lifers. When I was twelve, four years was a third of my life. Unfortunately, fourteen years is a third of my life now so players seem to come and go a lot faster. What hurts the fan base now is that the players are leaving at their option. When a player left before he could give the "I really loved it there and didn't want to be traded" speech. We hated the GM and owner for trading away our favourite player but we still loved him. Now the players are walking on their own and when they give the goodbye speech with a fist full of cash in each hand it rings oh so hollow and leaves us angry at the player for turning their backs on us. That's what free agency has done. It's shifted the movement onto the backs of the players and destroyed our admiration. It's not so much about how long our athletes stay but how they leave.
July 24, 2007 5:24 PM ET | Delete
hey jasquella, free agency leads to player movement which means no loyalty. Look at the other side of the coin: Why should a team that has spent millions on a player, just lose that player because a "richer team" can offer so much money? The players know the situation when they decide to play sports for a living. So if there is no free agency, too bad. The only dynasty in the NHL will be in the big money cities.....if that.....free agency stinks........
July 24, 2007 5:42 PM ET | Delete
Thanks professor for your wonderful lesson in vocabulary. It is cathartic, and it is proven simply by the fact that you posted. It is my contention that you have a frustration level built up from reading the posts about Briere and Drury. Therefore, venting your frustrations by assuming my blogs intent. If you knew what the word meant, I don't think you would be questioning its usage. Secondly, when did using the term "cathartic" become synonymous with high intelligence. If I post on this board to appear smart, then I think my problems run a bit deeper than being upset with free agency. Also, genius, I am glad you were able to come up with the conclusion that my blog was regarding my disgust with free agency. Gee, you must have gradimucated from a really good school! However, my rant was not linked directly to Briere and Drury. My annoyed response was a result of your comment, which had very little to do with the post itself; rather it was a way for you to demean my blog, and those who had previously commented. I have no ill will towards you, but I cannot deny that I find you obnoxious.
July 24, 2007 5:49 PM ET | Delete
Mayorofan: Good post, I think my age may have something to do with it.
July 24, 2007 6:16 PM ET | Delete
"Cathartic - Purifying. producing a feeling of being purified emotionally, spiritually, or psychologically as a result of an intense emotional experience or therapeutic technique." If I feel a sense of purification by posting on Hockeybuzz then this is one hell of a site. I hardly think that listening to Sabres fans whine was an "intense emotional experience." The word is not synonymous with intelligence - its 10th grade vocab- but its just tacked onto your post in a way that makes no sense other than to add syllables. And if you still think I'm in need of catharsis, let me remind you that I'm a Flyers fan. We have Briere. You don't. If you can't take mild criticism or differing viewpoints don't post a blog, instead write your thoughts down in your feelings journal and tuck it under your mattress.
July 24, 2007 7:18 PM ET | Delete
Look up the "cathartic theory". It might give you some insight as to what I was referring to. After all, this is a "sports" blog. As for criticism, I can handle criticism. In fact, many of the comments I have received on this post contrast my opinion. What I can't take is when people post for no other reason than to annoy. You didn't criticize me, you accused me (more or less) of being a whiner, and complaining about Briere and Drury. As for not taking criticism, I'm not the one who looked up a word online to prove someone wrong. I admit I can be a bit defensive, but I also appreciate others opinions, especially when they are given to enhance the conversation. I don't appreciate opinions given to provoke an arguement. I won't get into a battle of wits, because quite frankly, I'm sure I won't win. I don't want to appear intelligent, I want to talk hockey. I apologize if I offended you, and I would like to close this matter. Thanks for reading.
July 24, 2007 7:39 PM ET | Delete
That's fine. I also apologize. I know people can get prickly when you pick at their grammar or word usage and I wouldn't have done so if I didn't feel it was being used to put me down. I wasn't aiming for a fight. I thought my initial comment, that the loss of Drury and Briere strirred these feelings, had merit. Although I didn't mean to start a fight, I was really starting to get into it. Its a shame you had to go and be the bigger man because I had some pretty obnoxious "witticisms" I was looking forward to dropping on you. Now I'll have to save those for your next blog. Just kidding. No hard feelings.
July 24, 2007 8:02 PM ET | Delete
HAHAHAHA!!!! I'm interested in the comebacks, so I guess I need to say something bad to get this rolling again! How about..."get a haircut ya hippie." HAHA! J/K. I hope to have more conversations with you in the future. PS: Contrary to what a lot of upset Sabres fans are saying, Briere is going to be very good for you guys. I will miss him!
July 24, 2007 8:04 PM ET | Delete
Also Professor, looking back and really reading your original post, I did get too defensive, and I agree that your comment about Drury and Briere did have merit. I agree, no hard feelings.
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