I can't fight.
I just can't. I wish I was able to smash a guy's face in with my knuckles. I've always wished that, as I walked into a bar or down the street, people cleared a path for me because they feared me. That's life as a dork as a kid and okay, probably in adulthood. I have the heart and rage to fight someone, no doubt. I can get pretty crazy when my anger explodes. It is a Sicilian thing, as our blood tends to boil unconscionably when we are put to the test.
However, rage doesn't equal fists of fury, especially when your fists move at the speed of snails. When I try to pulverize a punching bag at the gym, the dents in the bag aren't exactly staying there, as my punches are all arm. I'm pretty sure you are supposed to put your body into them, however, I can't. I just can't fight. I can't send you to the hospital. I can't put a bruise on you. I fight like a girl.
That said, you can bet your ass I won't back down from you, drunk or sober.
The best fight story I have is when I woke up with a giant black eye because my friend started getting hassled by a group of people in Times Square. I, a bit drunk, ran into the group while eating a slice of pizza and asked "Who wants some?" and pushed someone. I got decked and as my slice went flying, I tried grabbing it with one hand while using the other hand to punch. Not a good idea. Decked again. Had to be dragged away by my friend because the only thing getting beat was my pride. I assure you, pick a fight with me and you will probably win.
Even still, I've always been of the mindset that if you are called a pussy or accused of having no heart, that is much worse than getting your ass beaten to the ground. Your wounds from a fight will heal quicker than your heart being questioned.
That's where it seems the Sabres are. They aren't taking shit anymore because they were questioned so many times last year after the Lucic hit. That's why Drew Stafford is fighting
a group of punks in Time Square Jeff Hartnell and Patrick Kaleta is taking out Phil Kessel for running into Ryan Miller.
Of course, like the group of kids who surround fighters in the parking lot at school, yelling "Fight! Fight! Fight!" fans and media members were eating it all up. I've always said that if the Sabres were a group of guys who scored 10-15 goals a year and hit/fought, they'd be universally loved, even more so than the Thomas Vaneks of the world, scoring 30 goals a year. We like tough guys because that's how we see ourselves.
The Sabres are braver, but they are not a physical team that is going to make the opposition say, "They are tough to play against." They just don't have that make-up. They are not Boston. The Sabres have a couple of guys who hit and can make life a living hell (when healthy – 36 and 8 don't exactly have an Ironman history), but for the most part, hitting isn't the team's game. Stafford can drop the gloves, but it doesn't make them tough to play against. Boston, NY, and Pittsburgh aren't going to be shaking in their boots, worried heads are gonna be chopped off if they cross the middle of the ice.
To me, fear has the bigger impact. That's what you want in hockey. It isn't about sticking up for yourself. It is about making the opposition fearful and sore the next day from getting hit constantly. Intimidation is the name of the game.
That's why I'd rather walk into that bar being feared than being the guy who doesn't back down from a fight. My bravery isn't going to help me win any fights unless they are against wimps. I may have heart, but I'm just going to be known as someone who can take a punch.
I think this Sabres squad has more heart than last year's squad, but they need Stafford to put the puck in the net, not put up his dukes. They need the 2nd line to score. They need Ryan Miller to stand on his head. They need Tyler Myers to fucken wake up from his 2-year slumber. That is how the Sabres are going to win games.
The bravery thing is nice to rally around, but heart only gets you so far. When you wake up with a black eye and a loss, heart doesn't make you feel much better. You still didn't get the win… and in hockey, that's what ultimately matters.