By John Vogl
Anyone who says it’s been fun heading to the Sabres’ arena day in, day out since September is either lying or unaware of what fun really is. Players, team employees and season-ticket holders have all bemoaned the drudgery.
It’s why Tuesday night was so ridiculously awesome.
For the first time all season, I drove away from First Niagara Center fully believing I saw the coolest thing in Buffalo that night. There is no place I’d rather have been around 10 p.m. when Ville Leino hopped over the boards for a shootout.
The crowd’s reaction to the most-maligned player on the last-place team was simply amazing. The fans already on their feet cheered louder than they had during the first eight rounds. The rest of the crowd stood to join them, with folks lifting their arms and exhorting their neighbors to get crazy.
When Leino scored – the first time any of his shots had hit the back of the net all season – it was bedlam. Players and coaches laughed, fans exchanged high-fives and memories were made.
It’s what sports is supposed to be about.
“That,” Drew Stafford said in the dressing room, “was the highlight of the season.”