As a Buffalo kid, my roots for the Sabres run deep, back to the days of the French Connection, Billy Inglis and George "Punch" Imlach. Throughout the team's history, though, there's been one constant -- Rip Simonick, who's been a part of the Sabres' equipment staff since Day One.
For that reason alone, having Simonick, now the team's head equipment manager, sign a Sabres puck has been one of the few remaining goals of my hockey-hounding career. Well, after last Thursday, that little task was finally crossed off my to-do list.
That's not to say, though, it didn't come at a price. First, Simonick questioned why I would want his autograph. That's simple, I told him, you're an original Sabre. Simonick, who joined the Sabres organization from the American Hockey League's Buffalo Bisons, smiled at my response.
Then, I fumbled the Sabres puck, dropping it from its case and watching it roll away. That, too, caused Simonick to smile, as I chased the puck down the sidewalk. His reaction -- pointing at me in wonder, as in "What's up with this?" -- drew laughter from my fellow hounds.
I wasn't the least bit embarrassed. After waiting as long as I had, Simonick, a 2000 inductee of the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame, finally signed these pucks.