I was texting my brother, a Kings fan, on Sunday, and I informed him that I was watching the San Jose-Detroit game. He expressed an opinion that many Ducks fans could probably agree with: he wanted both teams to find a way to be eliminated.
Everyone take a second to realize that you're agreeing with a Kings fan.
Okay, for those of you whose heads didn't explode, let me say that the San Jose-Detroit Series has been fantastic hockey. When I was watching the game on Sunday, I was surprised to find that I wanted the Sharks to win. I can't really explain the feeling, and this post will simply be my musings on that situation, as well as Ducks rivalries in general. It's the offseason, and we need content, so keep reading if you're interested.
The conclusion I came to, as I was hoping for a San Jose victory, was simply that my hate of the Red Wings greatly overpowered my dislike of the Sharks. Overall, I think I dislike San Jose fans more than I do their team. Coincidentally, that's also how I feel about the Predators.
There just isn't much of a reason to hate the Sharks. We beat them in our one playoff series. Not only did we beat them, but we were an 8 seed knocking off the top seed in the West. It makes sense that they hate us, but not the other way around. I know we play them a lot and there's bad blood, but I don't think this is a real rivalry. There just isn't enough postseason history.
For that matter, we don't have any postseason history with the Kings. This is another rivalry that I simply don't understand. My first hockey game was a Kings game. It was a 6-3 victory over the Blues. I was sick. I grew up an L.A. Everything fan, and the Ducks are a deviation for me. Oddly enough, they're the franchise I probably care the most about.
Area rivalries don't make sense to me. Rivalries are awesome because the hate is irrational, but justified. I always get the impression that Ducks fans don't hate the Kings, but they hate L.A. That seems a little too petty for me. Arthur and I went to a Kings game, where Bobby Ryan scored his first career hat trick, and we were pretty well harassed by the fans. Again, I understand the Kings hating us. We are the young upstart, the Mickey Mouse franchise that won the Cup that Roy stole from them in 1993. Then again, it could simply be that they hate Orange County the way Orange County hates L.A.
I have to say that I've been sufficiently rewarded for my loyalty to the Ducks. Having survived the dark days of Pierre Page and all of Disney's craziness, I was rewarded with two Western Conference titles, a division title, and a Stanley Cup.
There is a core of players on the current roster that I love watching. In the end, the Kings and Sharks just haven't been able to keep pace with our success over the past decade, but they haven't directly contributed to our failure either. To me, that's not a rivalry. Maybe it is okay to dislike them, but to hate them with the fire of a rivalry seems far fetched. No matter what happens, we will always be the first franchise in California to hoist the Cup. Nothing either team does from here on will ever be able to take that way. The Sharks and Kings need to actually do something before this can be a serious rivalry.
Now, Detroit, that's a rivalry. We met 3 times in the past decade, and two of those meetings were two of the best playoff series in that same time period. There was a Red Wings fan who posted here that he believed the reason the Wings lost to Pittsburgh was because of how much hell we put them through. There's an argument to be made, that we cost Detroit another Cup in 2003.
And it wasn't just the playoff defeats that fueled the hate. It was the dialogues of the talking heads, the Kronwall elbows that were called good hockey hits. It's frustrating to hear that everything the Red Wings do is clean and perfect hockey, and everything we do is dirty and evil. It wasn't just the conflict on the ice, the Wings were a manifestation of the hate that seemed to be coming at us from everywhere. In my opinion, the Red Wings are the Ducks' only rival.
I'm looking forward to the rest of the playoffs. I hope the Sharks beat the Red Wings and then lose in the Conference finals. I hope someone from the East wins the Cup. I actually like the way the Preds play the game and wouldn't mind seeing them win one. I might take a little joy in the suffering of Vancouver fans, who seem to think the hockey gods have already bestowed the Cup upon them.
I love hockey too much to let my joy of playoff hockey be doused by the fact that the teams I hate are playing. Enjoy the rest of the postseason. I know I will.