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It's a Wonderful Life, Lindy


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#1 PASabreFan

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 10:30 AM

An annual tradition... Rob Zmitrewicz wrote this back in '99. He is one of our minions, actually, but I won't "out" him.

It was December 23, just three hours before the Buffalo Sabres were to play the Colorado Avalanche, but Head Coach Lindy Ruff wasn't in the Christmas spirit. He was sitting on a bench in the Naval Park and moping about in a rather foul mood. The constant travel and stress of being the coach had landed him a terrible cold. His eyes were itchy and his nose was running.

"Oh, we're never going to win the Stanley Cup," he sighed. "Our power play is awful and the players just don't seem to want to play for me anymore. Sometimes I wish that I had never become the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres!"

Just then, a strong gust of wind blew and a small old man appeared behind him. Lindy turned and was startled by the sudden appearance of the man, whom he had not heard approaching.

"Hey, little fella, you just scared the hell out of me! I didn't hear you coming," cried Lindy.

"You didn't hear me coming because I'm an angel. My name is Seymour and I'm here to help you see just how great you have it as the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres," replied the man.

"Awww, you're screwy! Listen mister, if you really were an angel then you could probably see just how bad things are for me. The team is going nowhere and those guys on the Internet won't stop making fun of me. Everybody would be better off if I had never become the coach of this team!"

"You don't know how wrong you are! If only I could make you see," mused Seymour. He looked up at the stars and seemed to be talking to them for a moment before continuing. "Why, that's it! I'll grant you your wish and then we'll see if you like what you see!"

Another strong gust of wind blew past and suddenly a newspaper came rolling across the snow and stopped at Lindy's feet. He picked it up and saw that it was a recent copy of The Hockey News. Oddly enough, the Sabres were on the cover and the headline read, "Still the Worst Team in Hockey." Lindy was dismayed by this. He knew that the team had had its share of problems, but being called the worst in the league seemed like a bit of a stretch. He quickly flipped to the statistics for each team and found that he could barely recognize the roster. Most of the players on his team weren't there, and in their place were names he had never heard of. He looked at Seymour with wide eyes.

"Say, I can tell you're a little crazy, but I think you're making me loopy too. What is this, some kind of a practical joke?" he asked.

"No, the Sabres aren't your team anymore. You were never there to lead them past the Ted Nolan crisis. You were never their coach. Look, even your cold is gone," replied Seymour.

Lindy felt his nose and was shocked. His eyes felt fine and he could breathe with ease. He was healthy!

"I don't know what your deal is, but you might have discovered the cure for the common cold. C'mon, I'll go buy you a drink to thank you," said Lindy. He and Seymour started towards a local bar, though Seymour did not seem very excited at what he might find there.

They made their way underneath street lights and felt the snow begin to fall around them. Rushing into the bar to beat the cold, they found that it was not very crowded. Lindy seemed to recognize a voice from the corner of the room. He walked over to the dirty, drunken man and nearly had a heart attack! It was Curtis Brown!

"Curtis! Curtis, what are you doing? You're drunk and you have a game in a few hours! What's happened?" cried Lindy.

"Say mister, could you spare me a buck? It's cold and I need something to keep me warm," said Curtis Brown, more drunk than any man should ever be.

"Curtis? Curtis, don't you know me?" asked Lindy. The bartender was starting to take notice of what was unfolding in his establishment.

"Hey buddy, you got a problem with my best customer?" he spat. Lindy took no notice of the man behind the bar and instead looked to Seymour.

"Seymour, what's going on? This is crazy! Curtis would never be like this!"

"I'm sorry, Lindy. You were never there to help him develop into a solid NHL player. After a while he gave up and took to drinking. Now he spends all his money at bars much like this one and often takes to prostitutes," Seymour sadly replied.

Lindy stormed out of the bar and Seymour followed close behind. Unfortunately, the former coach was so dismayed that he didn't know where to go next.

"Seymour, where's Peca? I need to see him. Does he know what happened to Curtis?" whispered Lindy. Seymour shrugged and snapped his fingers. Before he knew it, Lindy found himself in a restaurant and there, in a small booth, was Michael Peca accompanied by a hideous woman. Lindy looked at Seymour and was just as surprised as before.

"Who's that woman he's with?" he asked. "Where's Kristin?"

"That's his wife, Beatrice. You were never there to help him follow up his Selke Award-winning season and become the captain of the Sabres. He never played that well again and eventually became a fourth-line player in the NHL. Virtually no one recognizes him and that's the most attractive woman he could get," grumbled Seymour, who was equally dismayed by what he saw.

"But she's twice his size!" cried Lindy. He stormed over to the table and began shaking Michael, screaming "What's happened to you, Mike? What's wrong?" Michael Peca was scared by the angry man and began to cry.

"Please sir, I don't like confrontations," he wept. By now, the restaurant owners were calling the police and reporting that a crazed individual was attacking one of their customers. Lindy regained his composure and soon rushed out before he was arrested.

Seymour followed, and once they were safely away, Lindy asked to see Michal Grosek. This time, Seymour seemed even less enthusiastic about showing Lindy what had happened, but Lindy was adamant. Once more, Seymour snapped his fingers and they both found themselves on a common street somewhere in the suburbs. All seemed well, and for a moment, Lindy thought that Michal had simply started a family and lived a normal life. Then came the sound of breaking glass. Lindy looked to the source of the sound and there saw Michal Grosek dressed all in black breaking into someone's home. Seymour stepped up and began to explain.

"You were never there to help him find his consistency. Before long, he grew disenchanted and gave up his dream of being a star in the NHL. Now, he robs people of their belongings to make ends meet."

"Are they all like this? Are all my players like this?" asked Lindy, now on the verge of tears.

"I'm afraid so...even some of the prospects never made it."

"Wait, you don't mean Marty! Please, tell me he's alright! Please, I have to see!" cried Lindy.

"OK, Lindy, but you won't like it," replied Seymour, whose voice took on an extremely serious tone. He snapped his fingers once more and, in a flash, they were both in a graveyard. Lindy immediately recognized the implications. He spun around and there before him was the gravestone of Martin Biron. Bewildered, he looked to Seymour for one last horrible explanation.

"When the team never overcame its difficulties following the year Ted Nolan was fired, the fans began screaming for a trade. The Sabres were pressured into dealing Marty to Montreal. Once there, he was thrust into the spotlight and the pressure was too much for the youngster. He lost his mind and talked himself to death," said Seymour, now on the verge of tears himself.

At this, Lindy finally broke down. How could things have turned out so wrong? How could he have not seen how important he was to his team?

"Seymour, take me back. I want to coach again! Bring me back, I'll do anything!" begged Lindy.

At this, Seymour smiled and snapped his fingers once more. Lindy found himself back at the Naval Park. Seymour was gone, but something else was different. Lindy realized his eyes itched and his nose was running. He was back! He began running through the streets of Buffalo on his way to the Marine Midland Arena, the happiest man on earth.

"Merry Christmas, undeveloped waterfront! Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, deserted downtown area! Merry Christmas, you beautiful old building and loan! Merry Christmas, HSBC Atrium Parking Lot! Merry Christmas, Marine Midland Arena!" he cried as he ran up the escalator, taking three steps at a time.

When he stormed into the locker room, he was shocked at what he saw. Curtis Brown was sober. Michael Peca was wearing the captain's "C" on his sweater. Grosek was over by the phone with Vaclav Varada making prank calls. Martin Biron was talking to anyone who would listen.

"Merry Christmas everybody! Curtis, you're not drunk! Mike, you're not married to a fat woman! Michal, you haven't taken to a life of crime! And Marty, you're not dead!" he nearly sang.

The players all seemed bewildered by the remarks except for Maxim Afinogenov, who didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. Just then, the horn sounded from above the ice surface. Martin Biron smiled and looked at his coach.

"Look coach, teacher says every time the horn blows, an angel gets his wings."

"That's right! That's right!" replied Lindy. He was so overjoyed at seeing and hearing Marty alive and well that he gave him a big sloppy kiss on the forehead.

At that, the entire team, even Maxim, was puzzled, but it didn't stop them from rolling over the Avalanche later that night, 2-1.

The End

#2 MattPie

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 11:24 AM

View PostPASabreFan, on 20 December 2012 - 10:30 AM, said:

Seymour followed, and once they were safely away, Lindy asked to see Michal Grosek. This time, Seymour seemed even less enthusiastic about showing Lindy what had happened, but Lindy was adamant. Once more, Seymour snapped his fingers and they both found themselves on a common street somewhere in the suburbs. All seemed well, and for a moment, Lindy thought that Michal had simply started a family and lived a normal life. Then came the sound of breaking glass. Lindy looked to the source of the sound and there saw Michal Grosek dressed all in black breaking into someone's home. Seymour stepped up and began to explain.

"You were never there to help him find his consistency. Before long, he grew disenchanted and gave up his dream of being a star in the NHL. Now, he robs people of their belongings to make ends meet."

Hahaha.

#3 shrader

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 12:23 PM

I'll out him.  He's another one of PA's alter egos. :bag:   (ok, not really)

Anyway, it's still a classic.

#4 PASabreFan

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 12:34 PM

View PostMattPie, on 20 December 2012 - 11:24 AM, said:

Hahaha.

Hey, it was 1999.