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Oh, Nasvhille. It's like you don't know how the hockey fandom thing is supposed to work.
My hatred of franchises has little to do with the actual play on ice and more to do with the rampant douchebaggery of certain fanbases. Nothing ruins a perfectly good game like a bunch of dumbass fans that are more interested in their own spectacle than what’s playing out on the ice. With that, I give you my hatred:
The Preds and their fans have always rankled me (the whole "Hey, you suck" goal chant is incredibly childish), but the 2010-2011 series against Nashville took things to a whole different level. As soon as the seeding was finished, Nashville fans began filtering over to our beloved blog to…
I’m not sure, actually. It was really the first, and only, fanbase in the NHL that didn’t seem to get the idea of blogging. Instead of critical views and detailed analyses of the upcoming games, we were actually being trolled on our own site.
As the series wore on and things heated up (especially with the diving, the alleged Corey Perry spear, and the Bobby Ryan "stomp"), things got downright ridiculous. Numerous threads were being posted maligning Ducks players as the most vile and dirty players ever, while Nashville fans simultaneously got the vapors anytime someone suggested that their players were engaged in any sort of unsavory behavior. And it wasn’t just the fans online. Vince Gil and Carrie Underwood got in the act at games, leading fans in any number of juvenile chants about the Ducks.
All of which made me think: Do these people get it? This is hockey. Hockey fans seem to be a different sort than most sports fans. While incredibly passionate about their teams, there seems to be a basic level of respect and understanding of what it means to be a hockey fan. After all, we’re sort of looked down on by the rest of the sports world (not that two lockouts in nine years is going to really help anyone take us seriously).
It just seemed like Nashville were the frat guys at any kind of social gathering in college. They took everything way too seriously, were easily moved to aggressive posturing, and yet wilted when challenged. I’ve certainly been annoyed by other fanbases, but there always at least seemed to be a basic level of common courtesy. I never got that with Preds fans.
The San Jose Sharks
Growing up as a San Diegan, I was taught to despise all things LA. So naturally, I always assumed that I would hate Kings fans. But as the past few years have worn on in both hockey and baseball, I’m discovering that Bay Area fans deserve a special kind of hate. There’s something about them that is so incredibly pompous, while simultaneously done-teaf and oblivious, that makes me seethe.
I vividly remember the 2009-2010 home-opener, when the Ducks fell to the Sharks 4-1. It was the first game after Anaheim had embarrassed San Jose in the playoffs the previous year, and Sharks fans just couldn’t deal. To this day, I still remember contrite Anaheim fans filing down the stairs after the game while a bunch of Sharks fans swore at us and flipped off everyone.
Now look, I get the competitiveness. I really do. But you’re: a) at a hockey game where there are quite a few kids around and b) you’re in someone else’s house. You won the game. Don’t be dicks about it. You can be all faux-macho about it, but you know nobody’s going to make a move because Honda Center isn’t the parking lot of Dodgers Stadium. So shut up, take your win, and get the hell out of my building.
This probably isn’t an original thought, but the Wings seem a lot like the Yankees of the NHL. Sure, you see their gear everywhere, but most people probably couldn’t tell you which state they play in. That said, the thing that gets me the most about Red Wings fans is that they seem to be at every hockey game, even if the Wings aren’t playing. One of my biggest pet peeves as a sports fan is people who do this. I used to hate it when you’d see Dodger hats at a Padres/Rockies and it drives me nuts to see Lidstrom jerseys at a Ducks game against the Stars. WTF?
All that said, I sort of don’t really fear Detroit any more. It’s pretty clear that their dynasty is over and that they’re on the downslope of their competitiveness. Don’t get me wrong, I love beating them (and Bobby’s OT penalty shot ranks as one of the greatest moments in my hockey life), but it’s increasingly less satisfying when we do. At the end of the day, I hate Detroit, but Kings are doing their damnedest to move into this spot.