Unlike my counterparts, I don't hold a particular disdain for the Detroit Red Wings. Maybe it's because I grew up admiring the likes of Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov. I never felt the need to disrespect the way they play hockey and run their organization. 2003 was memorable, and 2007 even more so, particularly because it pitted two different schools of hockey against one another. The Ducks, a bruising, physical team against a flashy, skilled team made for some of the best hockey of the past decade.
Unlike Detroit, I do hold hate for three teams specifically.
Although I never grew up on the West Coast, I still hate the Los Angeles Kings. During my first ever trip to the Pond, back in April of 2011, I witnessed what SK referred to firsthand. Although it didn't reach the heights of Toronto-Montreal, or Toronto-Ottawa, it was evident that the two groups of fans have no love loss. Obnoxious is one of the lighter terms for them.
On top of that, most people know that one of my favorite non-Ducks is Mike Richards. I loved him in Philadelphia, and was crushed to know I had to root against him when he was traded to Los Angeles the day before the 2011 Entry Draft. Of course, the acquisition of him helped propel the Kings into the playoffs, upset then-Western Conference favorite Vancouver, crush the Blues, Coyotes and Devils, en route to winning the 2012 Stanley Cup.
Right now, Kings-Ducks doesn't hold any significance other than proximity, but it will be a thrilling one with both teams now having won the Stanley Cup. This rivalry can only get better.
There is no team in the NHL that I hate more than the Nashville Predators. Heck, before 2011, I actually liked them. A successful NHL team in a non-traditional hockey market. A roster foundation built through the Draft. And a one-time destination for Mighty Ducks great Paul Kariya.
But that all changed during the 2011 Playoffs.
Maybe it was Jordin Tootoo. Maybe it was that stupid Smashville moniker. Or Martin Erat's imbecilic missing teeth grin. But before Nashville thought it was a good idea to douse their team in piss-yellow, their defensive-strong, steady, unglamorous Predators team ruined Corey Perry's Hart and Richard campaign by defeating the Ducks in six games.
The one thing I hated most about Nashville during that series wasn't anything I listed above, but the fact that the DNA of their roster was one that could counteract the Ducks in every way. For Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, Nashville had fellow 2003 draftees defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber. Instead of having a high-scoring offense, they buckled down the backend and stymied the entire Ducks offense. And they could thank their genius coach Barry Trotz for that. The 2010-2011 Ducks team is one that I thought had what it took to at least get to the Western Conference Finals, but they drew the one team that could beat them handily. That sucked.
Nashville-Anaheim probably won't be the same without Ryan Suter, but Predator games are without a doubt the most intense games of the same for myself.