So, the last couple days haven't been the greatest. Craig didn't have a good feeling about how the staff reorganization was going to go in the wake of the Sabres' purchase of the Amerks. He didn't feel like his "interview" was truly an interview (they asked more questions about the department than what he did) and they seemed generally distracted throughout. He had an inkling that they had earmarked a guy that already worked for the Sabres for his position. The guy was once one of Craig's interns and has gone on to jobs with a couple NHL teams. He also lives in Rochester, so it make perfect sense. Sure enough, he got the job. The stringing along wasn't cool, however, and neither was the fact that they decided at the last minute to create a position for Craig's assistant. How a guy that works his butt off all the time, after hours, on weekends, etc., ends up on the outs, I don't know. Not to take anything away from the other guys, but I can almost guarantee that Craig would do as much work as both of those guys combined, for obviously considerably less than they'll be paying those two. That's just how he is. He doesn't stop until the work's done, and unfortunately, in his job it pretty much never was. Ironic, however, that during his 12-year Amerk career, Craig trained no less than four people that went on to work under the Sabres' umbrella. Hmmm.
I'm not gonna lie, it's a little sad. I mean, everything is abuzz here now. Hockey had become a bit irrelevant in this town, and suddenly it's on the front of the paper and everyone's clamoring for the $10/game season tickets the Sabres instituted. It would have been fun to be a part of it. And I was all excited to really care about the Sabres again (not that I didn't before, but I've had mixed emotions since the Amerks-Sabres divorce a while back), and now I'm a little miffed again. Maybe that will ease a bit with time, but it's really unfortunate nonetheless. It's hard to watch your spouse get the shaft, knowing the heart, soul, sacrifice and dedication he put in every single day.
The good news is that he's not out of a job. He's still with the Knighthawks, though exactly how his job will be structured and what his salary will be is still in question. My biggest fear, of course, is that they'll lowball him on salary. If that happens, it's going to make everything just a bit harder...not the least of which is the goal to have baby #2 in the works by later this year. That extra $11K in daycare costs (and that's being conservative) was going to be a struggle enough...let alone if we're down a few more thousand in salary. My hope is that they'll have him take on additional responsibility (much of which he probably did unofficially before anyway) since the staff will be pretty small, and consider his expertise worthy of a decent salary. Let's hope...though nothing has really worked out ideally in this so far. I'm trying to keep the faith, though, that something will have to work out in our favor eventually. The other variable here is that the Knighthawks' future in Rochester is iffy--issues with the arena lease, mostly--and if they leave, he's pretty much screwed. We should have a couple years to figure it out, though, and a lot can happen in that time.
So, in an effort to embrace this new twist and/or turn in our lives, I'm trying to look at the good things about the situation...and yes, there are good things.
1) Craig has a job - In this economy, I'm just grateful he has a job at all. There was one guy out of the whole staff who didn't get an offer from either team, and believe me, I feel for that guy. Whether or not it was deserved is up for debate, but to be told neither team wants you has to be hard. At least one group values Craig's presence (just how much remains to be seen), and it's better than nothing at this point. And for the record, a situation like this is among the reasons why I left the teams and got a different job--because in the event of some major catastrophe, we didn't need both of us out of work. My old position did get picked up by the Sabres, but who knows in a situation like that what could have happened.
2) He'll be at work a lot less - He may not necessarily have less work to do (believe it or not) but there's 40 less games he'll need to physically be at, and a handful more that he won't have to follow when the team is on the road. He'll still have something going on most weekends from Thanksgiving to late May (between training camp, the regular season, and a playoff run), but it should just be one thing most weekends--one game or one roadtrip--rather than multiple games, or one home game and a roadtrip. I don't mind a little alone time (my chance to catch up on the DVR in the evenings!), so this sounds just about right.
3) Holidays shouldn't be as crunched - My job is pretty good about holiday time off. I get two days at Thanksgiving and usually a week at Christmas (a couple days of which we need to make up prior, but still). In the past, Craig has constantly been coming back to Rochester right away because there's almost always an Amerks game on the Friday after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas. This year, that shouldn't be a problem. He might still have Knighthawks training camp to attend to, but that should be a bit more flexible. Being in Buffalo might actually be a benefit if practices are held up in Canada like they often are.
4) He'll be able to come to games with us - It was rare that we got to watch live sporting events together as a family. We've done a few soccer games here and there, and a couple lacrosse games, too. But most of the time, Craig's working and Jacob and I are in the stands. This year, assuming we hit up a few Amerks games, we'll be going as a family. It won't be quite as cheap (free was tough to beat, parking included), but it'll make it a special occasion and that will be fun, too. A throwback to my teen years, perhaps, when a Friday night hockey game was about the coolest thing ever.
5) He might get his creative juices flowing - Craig has always had way too much on his plate. He had all of his PR stuff to do for both teams (even five teams at one time), but always found himself having to be the lacrosse champion because no one wanted to focus on it. He'd come up with promotions and events to keep the Knighthawks visible, but inevitably they never got to be as great as he wanted them to be because there just weren't enough hours in the day or enough hands to help out. There may still not be enough hours or hands, but hopefully now he'll have a little more time to devote to those creative pursuits. Inevitably, those events end up being far more rewarding than the standard day-to-day work, so perhaps his job satisfaction will increase. Speaking of job satisfaction...
6) He'll get to keep his broadcasting job - Craig really loves broadcasting. I can just see the extra sparkle in his eye when it's a topic of conversation or when he happens to turn on a rebroadcast of a game. Having done TV myself (back in 2003-04 I hosted the teams' weekly TV show), I know how it feels to see the finished product--awkward yet strangely rewarding. Each one is like your own little work of art, flawed or not. I also know the amount of sadness I heard in his voice when he told Jacob he might not do it anymore. Had he become a full time Amerks employee, he would have had to give it up. The mere thought of someone else being the voice of the Knighthawks was a bit of a bummer, quite frankly, so this is one major bright spot. I like being able to listen to Craig's broadcasts, and I think it's cool for Jacob, too. It's another one of those subtle job satisfaction things--the ability to do something not everyone gets to do, but many aspire to do. It's fun.
7) He might find a better job - Given that the Knighthawks' long-term presence in Rochester is a bit of a question mark, I'd have to think that's strong motivation to keep an eye out for potential job openings elsewhere. Not that he wouldn't have done the same with the Amerks, of course--you always have to keep an eye out for what's best for your family--but with a possible end date on this job it makes it a little more urgent. If he would have gotten the Amerks job, I think there would have been a little more security in general, and less of an urgency to explore other options, even if in the long run getting a job outside of sports is the goal. I'd love to see Craig get a job that pays him what he's worth and that runs a little more in the 9-to-5 realm. I want him to like his job, of course, but I'd also love for him to be less busy, less stressed, and more available at key times. Maybe this is the first step toward something like that, whether he's with the Knighthawks or not. If not, perhaps having a little extra time will afford him the opportunity to teach like he's wanted to for so long, or even get his teaching certification or PhD so he'd have a little better choice of teaching jobs. However, I will need a lot of assurances before we add student loans or any sort of tuition to the bills!
No matter how things go, it's going to be an intesting time for us. At least we have a bright side to look for...now to just ignore the other stuff... ;-)