Loving someone that doesn’t love you back hurts.
Hating someone who barely knows you’re alive is almost as bad, especially when it comes to sports.
In the NHL, as in most sports, plenty of perfect rivalries exist – both teams circle the games on their calendars with a big red pen, make sure to get to bed early the night before the game, and prepare themselves a little more diligently the day of. Tonight is going to be a war, they know, and I hate these guys. I want them to not just lose, but to get embarrassed.
For fans, these rivalries are a blast. When the Vancouver Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks get paired up in playoffs, a sitcom sounding “ooooo” is emitted from hockey fans. Ooo, as in, that’s going to be a battle worth paying attention to.
The problem is that sometimes a team can’t hold up their end of the bargain, and frankly, it’s kind of sad. It’s awkward. Dude – she’s just not that into you.
Below are the three that jump out first and foremost to me – I’d love to hear of some other tales of unrequited rivalries around the NHL.
The Columbus Blue Jackets vs. The Detroit Red Wings
Apparently this is a real thing. I’m sorry, fans of Columbus. I know you’ve taken untold amounts of abuse over the past [insert how long you've been in existence]. But that you consider a Blue Jackets/Red Wings rivalry to be a real thing is kinda sad.
I mean, I get it, you’re in the same division. I guess you’re pretty close geographically. But there has to be something on the ice that the players are aware of too. There has to be some history. A reason.
Detroit does not consider you a rival. There’s just no way. I’m sorry.
The Minnesota Wild vs. The Vancouver Canucks
There was a time, undeniably, where this was a thing. The Canucks and Wild still play some pretty entertaining games. But when your fiercest rival has at least two other teams they consider a real “rival,” you’re just not that important. You can’t paint the rival-hate on every night of the year.
The Wild have toiled in mediocrity over the past near-decade (no word has described their presence better than “mediocre”) while the Canucks have been raking in President’s Trophies, going to the Finals, and growing their hate with Chicago, Boston and likely others.
The Ottawa Senators vs. The Toronto Maple Leafs
For as long as the league has been in existence, the Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens have had a war. And (especially since the Phil Kessel trade), they’ve always hated the Bruins.
And even though the Senators have been the superior team of late, claiming a rivalry based on geography is once again a reach. Maybe it is the fault of the Leafs that they’ve had no real playoff battles, or epic history between them, but the fact remains – the Leafs, when it comes to rivalries, have bigger fish to fry. Ottawa – they’re just not that into you.
Rivalries obviously come and go depending on the personnel during any given year (Canucks/Blackhawks requires certain names), so there’s always rivalry questions, like: are the Red Wings/Avalanche still rivals?
I’m writing this as a plea for help, hockey fans: The rivalies listed above are the most obvious three to me when it comes to the “unrequited” variety, but I’m not even sure who teams consider their rivals these days. Carolina, Tampa Bay, Buffalo…who do your teams hate? Do they hate you back? I need more info here, folks.