We all know the story “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. But have you ever thought about what if the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, was a Sabres fan?
The Buffalo Sabres had failed. Of that, there can be no possible doubt whatever. Their playoff hopes, dead as a doornail for years upon years. Fans everywhere endured the suffering, tuning in on their TIVOS and some even attending the frays in person at the local arena.
As the years passed, a fan named Ebenezer got grumpier and meaner, responding to every glimmer of hope for a brighter future with a cynical “Bah! Humbug!” Throughout the village, everyone knew not to bring up the topic of hockey to Ebenezer for they would surely be met with the most cynical brand of verbal vinegar.
Ebenezer went through his days, day after day, toiling in his office until late at night, night after night, he would subject himself to another Sabres slaughter on his TIVO. He employed the fast-forward button as his favorite team routinely floundered in their own zone, trying in vain to get the puck back from their more talented opponents. It truly was a miserable existence for him and he paid his misery forward to the poor souls that were in his life.
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Then on Christmas Eve, everything changed.
Shortly after Ebenezer went to bed, he was visited by a grisly specter wearing a tattered and torn Sabres jersey. The ghost had bandages on his hands and the number 32 on his jersey was barely recognizable. The ghost told Ebenezer that he would be visited by three more spirits that night. Ebenezer scoffed at the vision, saying “I think I’d rather not.” Ebenezer assumed his vision of the scary ghost was nothing more than indigestion as the result of a frozen pizza he had eaten an hour earlier.
As the clock struck 1:00, Ebenezer was awakened by the first of the ghosts about whom he had been warned. This ghost was wearing a number 9 jersey, a neck brace, and a walking boot and introduced himself as the Spirit of Sabres Past. The ghost took Ebenezer by the hand, and they flew through the air to the arena where the ghost had once played for the Sabres. They watched together as a large group of players wearing their old Sabres sweaters were hitting goalposts, missing defensive assignments, and shooting pucks wide of the net. Then each of those players skated to the other end of the ice and put on their new sweaters for their new teams and started scoring goals and making plays against the Sabres.
Ebenezer then saw the ghost take off his Sabres sweater and put on a Vegas jersey as he faded into the dark. As the specter disappeared, Ebenezer cried out in anger, cursing the ghost and all of the players he saw on the ice that had failed him for so many years. Before he knew it he found himself back in his bed, sweating profusely as a result of the trauma he just endured.
An hour later, Ebenezer was awakened again, this time by a ghost wearing the number 89. The jersey was brand new and looked like it had never been worn. “I am the Spirit of Sabres Present,” said the specter. Ebenezer was again transported to the local arena where he and the ghost watched Don Granato putting his players through their paces. The names on the backs of the sweaters were familiar. Thompson, Okposo, Olofsson, Skinner, Dahlin and Luukkonen. Ebenezer once again scoffed, telling this new ghost that he wasn’t impressed. “These guys are going to fail, leave town, and become great for someone else just like the others all did.”
The ghost disagreed and then faded away. Ebenezer once again found himself in his bed.
Then, an hour later the final specter appeared, a young man wearing a University of Michigan sweater. He wore a helmet with a full-face cage so Ebenezer couldn’t see his face. “Am I in the presence of the Spirit of Sabres yet to come?”
The young ghost simply nodded and calmly pointed his hockey stick in the direction of the corner of the room. Visions of players like Quinn, Krebs, Power, Peterka, and Levi appeared in mid-air through a fog that was billowing up from the floor. These players were skating circles around their opponents, scoring goals, and making great defensive plays. A smile appeared on Ebenezer’s face as he could hear the din of thousands of people yelling and cheering in the background. His smile widened when he saw a fuzzy vision of what he thought looked like a few of them lifting a big silver cup over their heads.
“Is this the future?!”, he asked the spirit, but his question was greeted with silence. It didn’t matter. Ebenezer was convinced that this was indeed a look into the future. He was transformed.
The next morning Ebenezer sprung out of bed and headed to the streets of his village, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. He was no longer the grousing, grumpy old curmudgeon that everyone came to know and fear. He was reborn, his soul saved by those four ghosts, his hopes rekindled for a brighter future and his life changed forever.
Happy holidays to everyone. I hope you liked this Sabres story based on the popular holiday story “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. May you all stay safe and healthy, and may we all someday celebrate together the re-emergence of a once-proud franchise as they march to the postseason.