At first glance, coming from a Habs fan, the title may seem like insanity. However, it is anything but insanity. Why? Because every true hockey fan knows- there is absolutely nothing that is better than a rivalry.
The average hockey fan likes rivalries for the drama and headlines. Then there’s the fights. Then there’s the fights in the bar down the street from the stadium. Before you know it, everybody around you is just as angry as you are and you’re all having a grand ol’ time. And while the real hockey fans are still having a grand ol’ time, its for different reasons.
Rivalries have a weird way of bringing out the best in people. Think back to the playoff series between the Capitals and Penguins in 2009. While each respective superstar played spectacularly, we were the real winners. Because we got to watch and enjoy the two best players(at the time) in the game. It was a treat.
Take, for instance, Carey Price. 34 saves on 35 shots isn’t bad bad for any night, but it is all of a sudden better against the Bruins. It has the extra “umph”. He was more aggressive, but played more calmly. He was more flashy, yet more subtle and less distracted. Then you sprinkle that in with 30 other players playing the same way between the two teams(there are some stragglers), and you get 60 minutes of pure awesomeness.
But rivalries, especially the old ones like the game on Thursday night, go deeper than that. They bond people. Nothing can put an entire city behind a sports team than a rivalry. Everybody can agree that the Eastern Conference Finals last year would have been a lot different had the Bruins been able to close out the series. There would have been more memories.
Nothing can help two people communicate more clearly than a shared memory. Imagine what every Bruins fan would do if I just said “Too many men on the ice”. While most would say they hate me, there is a deeper meaning. There is an underlying feeling, a shared one, of remembrance. Its being able to say “That was really something,” and then being able to share it with more than a million other people. Not only does it improve hockey, but it improves everything around it.
So may the rivalry never die. May the rivalries in this sport continue to bring something to this magnificent sport that makes it so unique and awesome. May Canadians continue to chant “We want Russia,” and Habs fans continue to sing the Ole song away from home, and in home for that matter. So long live the Bruins, and the Maple Leafs. Long live the Penguins vs. Capitals. And may old rivalries be reborn, like the Canadiens vs. Nordiques and Avalanche vs. Red Wings.
Long live rivalries, and every team that is involved in each one of them. Besides, we need somebody to beat up on every now and then, right? BOLA TANGKAS