I was perusing Twitter Saturday morning when I came across this gem from @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:
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.
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.
Mike freaking Kostka. Recap from Steve Dangle of The Leafs Nation.
Now all I want is a plate of chicken wings and a glass of orange juice. Thanks a lot, Sean Fitz-Gerald.
To what degree are the Flyers’ problems tied to the loss of Pronger? Jonathan Willis of Bleacher Report takes a look.
Get caught up on some news and notes from around the league. From Dale Lamontagne of Editor In Leaf.
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 ?
Brown, Verhaeghe, Finn, Johnson off to strong starts. Leafs Prospect Update - October 20th via @bcphockeyblog http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2013/10/20/leafs-prospect-update-october-20th/ …
i still get prompted with the greatest maple leaf or best team of all time when i load the page on my phone
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?
images on people's posts do not appear for me. N e 1 else having this problem (never had it before)?
so 3 guys sent back to marlies...anyone called up? Friday is Clarkson..McLaren is any day after that! no shakeups today?
@mike_84 Glad we didn't trade for him.
@-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.
@4evrblue ashton, broll and smith
@4evrblue kessel bozak and jvr
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.
@DeclanK Is it just me or does the Livefyre seem to work better with the site update?
@Yaknowwhat It sorta was till the retained salary amount got in the way.
@Yaknowwhat and we'll be hungry for a win
@Yaknowwhat not sure what it's all about. the goals against isn't even right so the minutes played is kind of irrelevant
@Waiting4LSC leafs lack a good shutdown D for sure
@OTL @DeclanK looking forward to see how it handles the next game
@gunner_36 Appreciate that. Hopefully not jumping at every new technology like we've been accused of below.
@-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
@-Keon- yeah, whoever posted the tweet is just trying to say he thinks reimer has no rebound control