The Phantom: Terry Pegula
Christine: James Patrick (LOL!)
Prima donna Carlotta: Lindy Ruff (LMAO!)
The Boss: Mr. Golisano
The Persian: Larry Quinn
The story opens in early February, 2011 in grimy, downtrodden Buffalo, New York. James Patrick is an Assistant Coach with the Buffalo Sabres, who are in the midst of a terrible losing streak…
James’ boss, Mr. Golisano, is nearing the end of his reign as owner of the Sabres, and while on his ownership deathbed, tell James that once he sells the team, he will send him an “Angel of Hockey”, to right all the wrongs that the Persian, Mr. Quinn, has bedamned the franchise with over the years. Mr. Golisano’s grip on the Buffalo Sabres ended on February 22nd, 2011.
While working in the arena one day after team practice, James starts to hear a beautiful, unearthly version of the Sabres’ rally cry from the 70’s, “We’re gonna win that Cup”, raining down from the public address system. He believes this to be the work of the mysterious “Angel of Hockey” that his former boss has promised. James sends a booming inquiry to the Press box, where he sees a shadow lurking about, as to who is doing this, and if it is indeed the “Angel”. A voice cuts through the old, familiar melody. “Yes, it is I, and I am going to give you the tools to ge….er, I mean, I am going to help you build hockey heaven!!!”
James starts seeing many changes around the arena, one bigger than the last. He also starts to receive gifts, in the form of over-priced players, to fill out his roster with. Clearly, this “Angel”, though the mysteriousness of such has James thinking of him as more like a “Phantom”, is trying to win James’ trust and loyalty. Though James is leery at first, he starts to sense that this Phantom of the Press Box is starting to win him over.
Enter the 2011-12 hockey season, which is rife with expectations of glory. The team, however, is soon mired in one of the worst losing streaks this franchise has seen in decades. Angry mobs are screaming from the alleyways and street corners for change. Initially none comes.
Then partway through the month of February, the Phantom tells young James to be ready. That it will be his team to run soon. Being great friends with current head coach Lindy Ruff, James is naturally a little worried about the cryptic warning from the Phantom. “What is going to happen to my friend, Lindy?”, he wonders.
Soon, his questions are answered. One day, during team practice, defenseman Jordan Leopold “accidentally” slips and falls while performing a drill, and wipes Lindy off his feet. The coach lets out a blood-curdling scream, and lands on the unforgiving ice with such blunt force, that he breaks three ribs. Lindy, unable to run the player’s bench effectively while injured, is banished to the press box, while his understudy James is handed the head coaching duties.
James triumphs in his first two performances, bringing the house down in the process. The Phantom beams from above, while the calls to keep Lindy in the Press Box are heard throughout the grey, snowy streets of Buffalo.
Fast forward to the 2012 off-season, where a fully healed Lindy is readying for another summer on the golf course. James, however, is courted by the most prestigious hockey clubs from around the land looking for a lead man. When James finally accepts an offer that is too good to turn down, the Phantom’s jealousy overtakes him, and in order to show James that his recreant ways will not get the best of him (even though his heart is clearly shattered), he utters those once-famous words that he may have lived to regret, “Lindy ain’t going nowhere! bwahahahahahahahahaha…”
Obviously, this is purely fictional, derived from the famous story, “The Phantom of the Opera”, and I’m only having fun. Congratulations to James Patrick on winning his first two games as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres, and while we all wish Lindy a speedy recovery, everyone knows that the team is in good hands until that time.
Thank You to the late Gaston Leroux, and to Nicole for inspiration, in helping me in the writing of this piece (a piece of what, I don’t know. But, a piece nonetheless!).
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