Moxie, class and the Stanley Cup

One of the occupational hazards of being a sportswriter is jadedness. It goes with the cynical territory that newspapermen and newspaperwomen have honed through the years. We tend to wear it like a badge of honor. It’s part of the cultural history along with fedoras, anachronistic jargon and the desire to talk and think as quickly as a 1940s movie.

In the current media currency, cynicism is the golden ticket and the more brash you are about it (especially in the sports world) the more street cred you get.

I tried to deal in the popular cache for a period of time, but while I have an addiction to the negative, I didn’t particularly enjoy the feeling of being jaded. Sarcastic? Yes. Cynical? That felt unnatural and not for me.

Still, sometimes when you’re emerged in a world, you forget the wonder that exists around you.

And so thank goodness for my friend Jessica.

She invited me to join her over the weekend at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery for an exhibit called Forty: The Sabres in the NHL, featuring documentary photographs of 40 years of Buffalo Sabres hockey. As an added bonus, this week the Stanley Cup and other NHL awards were on special display at the art gallery.

Jessica, an enthusiastic Sabres fan, made no mistake about it — she wanted to get her picture taken with the Stanley Cup. And she was rather excited at the prospect. And while we have both seen the Stanley Cup before, her excitement for the outing, for sharing hockey history with a friend, renewed my energy and dusted away some of the lingering cobwebs of cynicism.

First up — the special NHL trophy room. The Stanley Cup was displayed in the center of the room. Our tickets gave us half an hour with the display and we made sure to get as many photos as possible in as many combinations and poses as possible: Jessica and me solo; Jessica and me together; Jessica and Phil, one of the guys who escorts the Stanley Cup on its 300 nights away from its Toronto home. (Yes there was a theme here, and it wasn’t necessarily the Stanley Cup.)

I decided to take my picture with the Hart Trophy as well. That’s the one awarded to the player judged to be most valuable to his team.

And while I get great assists from many, many people, really, shouldn’t I be the MVP of my life?

On to the photography displays which were well done, interesting and entertaining. I particularly was fond of a series of photos of Punch Imlach, former general manager for the Buffalo Sabres. It’s not just his emotion which is caught on film, but the reactions of the people around him. And the dress of the day. Remember when men wore jackets and ties to games (or at least shirts with collars) and women wore the equivalent in the fashion of the times? Neither do I. But I’ve seen the pictures. And it looks marvelous.

Maybe it’s romanticizing an era or getting sucked in to the beauty of those still black-and-white photographs, but I find something classy there. Yes, dressing in your best duds for a hockey game is a bit antiquated, but there is something charming about the idea.

When you view your world from a slightly different vantage point, it’s not solely for the sake of being contrarian. There’s an elegance that comes from the shift.

Old school meets modern.

It’s a little bit of moxie with a little bit of class.

Kinda like my friend Jessica.

And a great attitude with which to start the week.

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