Sunday Mashup: Has the word “rivalry” lost all meaning?

Sunday Mashup: Has the word “rivalry” lost all meaning?

Photo: Torontoist.com

I was perusing Twitter Saturday morning when I came across this gem from @hockeynight:

How strong is the rivalry between the @MapleLeafs and @NHLBlackhawks? You’ll see tonight 6:30pm ET. #hockeynight

— HockeyNightInCanada (@hockeynight) October 19, 2013

There are few words in the sports world that are as overused and over-debated as the word “rivalry”. What does it mean? From thefreedictionary.com:

ri·val·ry  (rvl-r)

n. pl. ri·val·ries

1. The act of competing or emulating.

2. The state or condition of being a rival.

OK, in that case, every single matchup in sports is considered a rivalry, because every team is in an act of competition with every other team. But we, the sports fans, know better, don’t we? Do you have the same sense of anticipation and animosity in a Tuesday night game in Florida as you would on a Saturday night at the Bell Centre? Of course not! All rivalries are simply not created equally. So then, what are some qualifiers we need to come up with to choose the true rivalries from the fake, made-for-TV ones?

1. History. This is what makes Leafs-Habs games the best of the year in my opinion. Sure, the teams haven’t played in a playoff series in a while (1978-79, to be exact), but some rivalries never die, and that’s the case here. Its roots are in the old battles between English and French Canada, and even though the feud isn’t the same, there remains a bit of political tension between Quebec and the rest of Canada. Other rivalries such as Habs-Bruins and Blackhawks-Red Wings were started back in the Original Six days, and remain to this day.

2. Geography. There’s the Battle of Ontario and the Battle of Alberta. How about that vicious three-way rivalry between the Rangers, Islanders and Devils? Or the battles between the two Pennsylvanian tenants: the Flyers and Penguins? California may not be a traditional hockey hotbed, but there’s plenty of ill will tossed around between the three teams hanging out in that state. They even have their own blog (http://www.battleofcali.com) dedicated to hating on each other.

3. Division and Conference. I think we can all agree two teams who are not in the same conference can’t really be considered a rivalry. You just can’t truly build up a hatred for a team you only get to see once or twice a year. I don’t think you necessarily need to be in the same division to be considered a rival, but it certainly helps. What’s that thing people used to say? Absence makes the heart grow fonder? Well, it’s like that, but the opposite. In my case, the four teams I hate the most (Habs, Bruins, Sens and Sabres) are all in the same division as the Leafs, so that’s handy.

4. Playoff History. Is it still considered a rivalry if one team continually beats another in the playoffs? At any rate, at least those four consecutive playoff series in the early 2000s between the Leafs and Sens helped both fan bases hate each other in new and creative ways. There was the time Daniel Alfredsson hit Darcy Tucker from behind . Or the time Daniel Alfredsson pretended to throw his stick in the crowd to mock Mats Sundin (I’m still not really sure why we got so upset about that, but anyway, we did). Or the time Tie Domi knocked Martin Havlat unconscious with a late, blindside hit. During those days, the Battle of Ontario was at its fiercest. Canucks-Blackhawks is another example of a rivalry being taken up a notch thanks to a few memorable playoff battles.

Anyway, those are a few qualifiers I can think of right now. There might be some more I’m forgetting.

So let’s revisit that @hockeynight tweet. Is Leafs-Blackhawks a certifiable rivalry? I’m writing this on Saturday afternoon, so maybe something happened in the game last night which made everybody in Toronto and Chicago instantly hate each other with a newfound passion. But barring an incident of that magnitude, Leafs-Blackhawks should not be considered a real rivalry.

Was it a rivalry back in the 60s? I’m sure it was. I remember reading about the playoff series the two teams battled it out in 1967, starring Bobby Hull, Dave Keon, Stan Mikita, George Armstrong, Tony Esposito, Johnny Bower and company. But unfortunately, the expansion era seems to have killed it. I can’t even remember the last time the Leafs and Blackhawks played against each other. Hence why teams in separate conferences can’t really be rivals.

This isn’t an indictment of HNIC. They’re trying to sell ad revenue and attract eyeballs, so they’re going to play up those old Original Six battles like none other. Part of the reason we love hockey is the history, so those battles should be celebrated. Let’s just not pretend they’re reason enough to call these teams rivals.

LINKS:

Maple Leafs: Hall of famer Allan Stanley dies at age 87

Stanley was a member of four Stanley Cup-winning Leafs teams in the ‘60s. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. Obituary by Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star.

LEAFS POSTGAME – THE BLACKHAWKS ARE DECENT

Mike freaking Kostka. Recap from Steve Dangle of The Leafs Nation.

David Bolland and the bar where everyone knows the Maple Leafs forward’s name

Now all I want is a plate of chicken wings and a glass of orange juice. Thanks a lot, Sean Fitz-Gerald.

The Chris Pronger Effect: Examining the Impact of Flyers’ Captain’s Absence

To what degree are the Flyers’ problems tied to the loss of Pronger? Jonathan Willis of Bleacher Report takes a look.

NHL Corner: Saturday, October 19 2013

Get caught up on some news and notes from around the league. From Dale Lamontagne of Editor In Leaf.

262 comments
deedrag
deedrag

Evening all. I'm just wondering if guys on the team like JVR, Bodie and Leivo with their size and weight,  could be used in a center roll on the team ?

OTL
OTL

So who gets the next start against the ducks of Anaheim?  Bernier or Reimer?

OTL
OTL

The redesign is fantastic!  Great work Alec and Declan!  Works great on my  phone too! 

mike_84
mike_84

The Lindback trade isn't looking to good

mike_84
mike_84

Seems we have 2 guys in the top 5 in hits for Dmen. who would of thunk it.

mike_84
mike_84

i still get prompted with the greatest maple leaf or best team of all time when i load the page on my phone

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

Penner got flattened . Looked like the guy left his feet and it might have been a elbow to the head 

mike_84
mike_84

So now that we lost 2 in a row what crazy trade scenarios have come up today? how many times has Yak been traded to us?

Jordan29
Jordan29

Site is a beast on my z10 bb

darthNihilus
darthNihilus

images on people's posts do not appear for me. N e 1 else having this problem (never had it before)?


4evrblue
4evrblue

site looks great guys!!

who were the 3 guys sent down today?

PEIleafnation
PEIleafnation

so 3 guys sent back to marlies...anyone called up? Friday is Clarkson..McLaren is any day after that! no shakeups today?

mike_84
mike_84

@OTL I think they will play James

DeclanK
DeclanK moderator

@OTL Thx man! 

darthNihilus
darthNihilus

@-Keon- What is the point you are trying to make? I don't think the goal-tending has been any issue this season thus far. 

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

If Friday is Clarkson, it's Decision time for Rielly. Really want Rielly to succeed. I think he can stay, but have some doubt as to whether that is the best option. Would be different if we had brought in a solid #2.

OTL
OTL

@DeclanK Is it just me or does the Livefyre seem to work better with the site update?

gunner_36
gunner_36

Awesome work Alec, Declan & co. This site just keeps getting better.

JMAC17
JMAC17

@Yaknowwhat It sorta was till the retained salary amount got in the way.

4evrblue
4evrblue

@Yaknowwhat not sure what it's all about. the goals against isn't even right so the minutes played is kind of irrelevant

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

After Saturday night, glad you could be specific. So many to chose from. :)

mike_84
mike_84

@OTL @DeclanK looking forward to see how it handles the next game

gunner_36
gunner_36

@DeclanK @gunner_36 No I think it's been just fine. And obviously the changes are designed to improve speed/performance and not to just use every possible technology available. As long as you don't change things every day, it's fine by me :P

DeclanK
DeclanK moderator

@gunner_36 Appreciate that. Hopefully not jumping at every new technology like we've been accused of below. 

Leafbites
Leafbites

@MaxwellHowe @-Keon- It wears down the dman, having to battle for loose rebounds all game. Over the course of 60 minutes, it matters.

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@-Keon- I agree, he kinda doesn't.  But that said, Bernier smothering the puck only leads to faceoffs the Leafs lose.  So the practical difference may not be that significant

4evrblue
4evrblue

@-Keon- yeah, whoever posted the tweet is just trying to say he thinks reimer has no rebound control