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

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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.

  • Burtonboy

    Optimustic Burtonboy Thanks. Looking forward to following MacWilliams progress. Would pair nicely with one of our more offensive guys in the future

  • Burtonboy

    Optimustic Burtonboy Thanks. Looking forward to following MacWilliams progress. Would pair nicely with one of our more offensive guys in the future

  • Optimustic

    Burtonboy Optimustic Agreed,  I was thinking the same thing about Holzer,  MacWilliams will drop the gloves though when needed.

  • Conis

    Jordan29 Yep that’s a nurse for ya. They also know more then MDs and Pharmacists

  • Jmessih

    Optimustic Yaknowwhat Grabo trade it was him and a second for grabo

  • Loric76

    here we go, bitchfest coming up…
    https://twitter.com/FAN590https://twitter.com/FAN590/status/392048475019698176
    Brad Marsh, former https://twitter.com/search?q=%23MapleLeafs&src=hash defenceman, joins Sportsnet Tonight now to discuss the current https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Leafs&src=hash D and leadership within the club.

  • Jordan29

    @Conis Jordan29 well yes, those things are classified as everything!

  • Jmessih

    Burtonboy Looking good Andrew!

  • Jmessih

    Burtonboy Also want to point out after 2 period Ashton had 5 shots 1 goal, and had a couple breakaway, clearly an eventful game, Smith had an assist, David Broll was zeros across the board now I didn’t watch but I’m not to happy with a performance like that out of Broll. Anyone who watched Optimustic have an update? How did the kids look?

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Refresh the page, new site. 
    New mobile and tablet theme, etc.

  • Jordan29

    DeclanK weird……not too bad

  • Jordan29

    DeclanK 60000 times faster

  • Burtonboy

    DeclanK Cool

  • Optimustic

    DeclanK I was on the Blackberry Playbood earlier.  I could post, but not reply. It was also very slow.  I’ll try it again as I hope the new site works better with it.

  • Jmessih

    DeclanK OH snap big changes! This site gets better and better, I just want to say thanks for all the work you guys put in. This is a great place for leafs news, opinions, updates, and everything else. Thanks for a great site!!

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    -Keon- Comments  should be much faster and the mobile (tablet) version is much, much better.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    -Keon- ’tis

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    MikeGartner11 Ya, should load more quickly for desktops, and much, much quicker for mobile/tablets.

  • Loric76

    very nice

  • Nikhil Daljeet

    DeclanK -Keon- 
    Loads faster for me even on my laptop

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    -Keon- DeclanK 
    Previously, mobile/tablets got the same site as the desktop site. Not mobile/tablets have a responsive theme that adjusts to the size of the phone or tablet. 
    LiveFyre displays a different version of the comments now. Before, mobile phones got the desktop version of the comments, now they get a mobile’ized version. That’s how.

  • Cameron19

    Loric76 There are issues on D, but the problem is with our forwards, for the most part.

  • MaxwellHowe

    The clean lines, the snazzy fonts and links.  This sort of thing might encourage a degree of civility on this site. 
    And maybe the Leafs would have won last nite if they had worn their snazzy original six away unis..

  • MaxwellHowe

    Cameron19 Loric76 
    The Blackhawks forwards swarm, moving constantly and always in unison.  Whatever is the opposite of all that, that has been the state of the Leafs forward units.

  • Cameron19

    -Keon- Nikhil Daljeet DeclanK It’s not faster on the initial load for me, but once it’s up, it’s smoother.

  • Optimustic

    It may be a little faster, but the reply feature still doesn’t work on the Playbook.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Cameron19 -Keon- Nikhil Daljeet DeclanK 
    70% of the load time is the ads. It’s faster on the whole.

  • JMAC17

    Whoa…slick changes

  • skiingallday

    wow, I like the changes.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Optimustic 
    Can you comment on other sites with real-time commenting with the playbook?

  • wendelsway1

    Looking Good Guys!!

  • MaxwellHowe

    Optimustic Being fast only discourages sober second thought.  I’ve used the few seconds of delay wisely thru the last few weeks.  If only Fenton knew the range of utterly filthy things I meant to call him that were deleted as I cooled my jets waiting for Livefyre.

  • Optimustic

    DeclanK Optimustic Not sure,  I almost never use other sites.  I could give it a try though.  I’ll try the Yahoo site, I think I’ve commented there in the past,  (Way past though. )  P.S. I’m replying from the PC.

  • Cameron19

    MaxwellHowe Cameron19 Loric76 Yep.

  • JMAC17

    Loads way faster for me (laptop).
    Changes are nice, not to drastic, everything is still where you think it will be.  Nice and clean looking.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Optimustic DeclanK 
    Playbook won’t work with new technologies like AJAX, so real-time commenting won’t work for you.

  • Optimustic

    DeclanK Optimustic Thanks Declan.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    JMAC17 Ya, more of an upgrade than overhaul. Creeping up on 35-40% mobile and tablet users, so they get their own version of the site now. 
    Tried on 2 different Androids on a slow wifi connection and it runs a million times better for me. Hope everyone else finds the same.

  • JMAC17

    I am a little disappointed Sean Lamb made the cut though, but thankful he is smaller…lol

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    JMAC17 HAHA!

  • Alec Brownscombe

    JMAC17 Sean Lamb is a big Leafs fan who sponsors MLHS, show him some love

  • Jordan29

    Does anyone have any epic NHL14 games they played? I just as one where a guy was detroit and was up 5-1 after the first. I tried to quit but pressed the wrong button and the decided not to. Came back and Bozak scored in OT for the 6-5 win. He was probably pissed lol

  • MaxwellHowe

    Cameron19 MaxwellHowe Loric76 
    RC needs to get himself a plan for the forwards- in the ozone and dzone, set the lines in place and bring the hammer down. Sit guys who don’t execute.  Letting this continue is not an option.
    I liked the Hawks approach.  Stretch out the forwards, make seams and let the speed of the wingers beat the D.  The other approach is to have the forwards come all the way back for puck support.  Any idea what might work? 
    In terms of ozone, the Leafs need to learn to win puck battles down low (not sure how you teach that), cycle the puck and bottle teams in.

  • Bobsyouruncle

    Goes to sharpens pitchfork…..

  • Jordan29

    Alec Brownscombe JMAC17 Thats my boy then. SEAN FTW!

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Jordan29 I’ve been absolutely ripping up Xbox Live with the Leafs on 14. If you have XBL, add LeafsHotStove.
    I’m gonna break into the top 100 in versus play soon

  • Cameron19

    MaxwellHowe Cameron19 Loric76 Come all the way back and move the puck up the ice as a unit, attack with speed. Rush on the counter-attack.

  • Jordan29

    Alec Brownscombe JMAC17 Anyone living in his area should remember that when your dealing with Real Estate next time. My agent I always use is a massive leafs fan too. Thats how you know they are smart!

  • skiingallday

    Nice little article
    http://thehockeywriters.com/maple-leafs-prospect-update/

  • Loric76

    Cameron19 MaxwellHowe Loric76 that requires moving your feet and skating.