Dead on arrival: Rivalries
What the Puck?
Whether it’s Bruins vs. Canadians, Crosby vs. Ovechkin, or Pats Vs. Warriors, rivalries are an essential part of hockey. Or at least, they used to be.
What happened to the days when you would look forward to the back and forth, high scoring, blood shedding battle between rivals? God, I miss those days.
The closest thing we have to a rivalry as of late is everyone in the world vs. the Leafs, and even that one is getting old because the Toronto is somehow doing good this year. In fact, I recently saw a Toronto fan sporting a hideous Kessel jersey, walking the streets of downtown Regina, without the bag over their head. In the words of Gord Miller, “Can you believe it?”
Hockey fans used to mark the days on the calendar when the Bruins and Canadians would square off in an epic original six battle, now all we have is a 2-1 game with no fights and little action – literally, that was the game story from Feb. 6 when the two teams squared off. Check it if you don’t believe me.
Even the player battles are seemingly non-existent. The Crosby vs. Ovechkin rivalry that was in full force five years ago is all but extinct now. Seriously, can you even call it a rivalry anymore? Crosby has the Olympic Gold and the Stanley Cup rings in his repertoire. Ovechkin did win the Calder Memorial Trophy for top rookie back in 2005 when the two entered the league during the same year due to the lockout, which still haunts me to this day, but what have you done for me lately, Ovie?
Even international hockey battles aren’t the same anymore. Canada vs. Russia has been a classic rivalry since the 1972 summit series when Canadians almost lost their hockey identity, but even that has lost its zest, dying a slow painful death right before our eyes.
Need I remind everyone of a little thing I like to call “The 2010 Olympics”, when Canada got gold and Russia got sixth. A bunch of you are probably whining about how Russia is close to Canada, if not better, at the World Juniors, but to those of you I say, relax, and stop acting like I said bomb on an airplane.
Even locally, gone are the days when the Moose Jaw Warriors vs. Regina Pats caused a sellout at the Brandt Centre. I remember going to a Warriors/Pats game and had to resort to standing room only. The booze was flowing, punches were being thrown, and the game was almost always a down-to-the-wire finish. It was magical.
So what makes a good rivalry, you ask? Well, for starters, it takes a certain degree of hatred between two teams, or players. Then, preferably some bad blood going back decades. Add to that games that are guaranteed to be high scoring, evenly matched, and have high degrees of physicality and excitement, and you’ve got yourself the beginnings of a rivalry.
Did I mention that during the best rivalries one person is definitely leaving the game with less teeth than they came in with? Is that so much to ask? Seriously, the last time a guy lost his teeth in the NHL was when Patrick Kane skated into his own teammate during practice while he was chewing on his mouthguard in that annoying way he does. You know what I’m talking about. Anyway, serves him right, but I would much rather it was a right hook to the mouth, or slap shot that knocked those chicklets loose.
It appears as though the days of the good old fashioned hockey rivalries are behind us, but I won’t let this one go down without a fight.
If it’s wrong that I want more games to feel like I’m watching the Charleston Chiefs vs. the Syracuse Bulldogs, then I don’t want to be right.
Photo courtesy of faceoff.com