Hockey season has just started and that means everyone around the sport -- fans, players and media -- is full of energy. Of course that energy means fast paced action, loud crowds and... *screen flickers* BLOOD!!! WE WANT BLOOD!! GET 'EM! HIT 'EM!! RIP HIS FACE OFF!!
Excuse me. I got a little excited there. Yes folks, the rivalries, the fights and the vitriol are back along with the new NHL season. And for those fans who believe their teams are already out of it (the top 3 players on my Isles are all injured! woohoo!), for those who have Cup dreams and are demanding nothing but pain to be inflicted on their enemies, and for Philadelphians who were raised on this stuff, have we got something for you. It's the Hater's Guide to the NHL presented by Bloguin, BMR and Friends!
Tomorrow, we'll have the Western Conference Post of Hate. However, today we're leading off with the Eastern Conference. It's got that Crybaby in Pittsburgh, those Playoff Chokers in Washington and the Devils with their arguably lockout inducing trap. There's more than enough hate and retribution to fill eight Steven Segal movies right there. So without any further ado, click on that jumpity jump and dive right in!
Click "Read more" for the whole conference or choose from the links below to jump to a division:
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Kevin Schultz, Barry Melrose Rocks
Oh, the Devils. A team nobody cares about in a state everyone loves to hate on (that Jersey Shore show isn't popular because it's filled with Nobel Prize winners now is it?). It's almost mean to hate on them. Nobody goes to their games -- OK, maybe there are 10 fans now that they have a new arena -- and they hold their Stanley Cup parades in the parking lot.
But you know what I hate about the Devils? The trap. That G-Damn trap. Whether it really had any influence on the lockout is horseshit, but man did it create all those stupid rules Bettman added to add scoring to the game. So thanks for that, assholes. Because of you goaltenders are now human pinatas (screw the accent mark), we have a dumb trapezoid behind the nets and everyone's favorite to hate on the overtime shootout. I like the shootout because I'm easily amused, but now I have to listen to all these idiots in the media talk about how random and unfair it is. Shit, everyone in the arena gets on their feet and goes crazy during the shootout and you're the asshole sitting in the corner trying to ruin it for everyone. Thanks, dicks.
That doesn't really irk me though, the thing that really fucking pisses me off about the Devils is Marty Fucking Brodeur. That sack of lard has been guarding the Devils net for over 15 years now. Holy crap. He's going to get his fat ass into the Hall of Fame because he benefited from 10 years of trap-you-to-sleep hockey. And he's a smart ass to boot. Screw you Marty. Screw the Devils. Screw Doc and Chico. Screw Lou and especially, ESPECIALLY screw the G-Damn trap. We all should be refunded for every time the Devils came to play our team and induced a 2-1, 30 shot on goal combined cure for insomnia.
NEW YORK RANGERS
Kevin Schultz, Barry Melrose Rocks
Jesus, how did I get the first two teams? Fricking alphabetical order.
Where oh, where does an Islanders fan begin on the Rangers? There are so many places to start. If it wasn't for the once in a generation miracle that was 1994, these paragraphs would be filled with no hate and simply laughter. Hell, it's still gonna be filled with laughter. Speaking of, I've got some funny questions for you to ponder.
Do you know which team has won exactly one Stanley Cup since the Second World War? Do you know which team's fanbase still chants "Potvin sucks" like it's an original thought? Or how about the team that regularly spends to the cap ceiling and can't make the playoffs (and when it does make the playoffs, they lose a series after being up 3-1 to the choke artist Capitals!)?
Oh, it's the Rangers.
Two words: Wade Redden. BAHAHA!
And the worst part about the Rangers? The younger demographic of the fanbase. Every Jersey Shore wannabe schmuck in the tri-state area is a Ranger fan. You would think they would be a Devil fan (Jersey) or an Islander fan (JWoww isn't from Franklin Square, Long Island for nothin') but no they all take the LIRR or NJ Transit into Manhattan to act like they're somebody (they're not) and wear their Gucci and Armani under their Drury jerseys (how did that signing work out?).
You know you're team is trash when the trash of the surrounding area gravitates toward you.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Chris Wassel, The Program
Some will say how can you hate a team that cannot even muster a playoff series win in 15+ years? That answer is simple. The Islanders always play the Devils tough no matter the record. From the Rick DiPietro 15 year contract to the man games lost to injury that seem to plague the Islanders year after year, this team still finds a way to annoy the Devils and my psyche like few teams ever could dream of doing. Then Franz Nielsen tries to be a ballerina and his knee crumples like the back end of a Pinto. Yet Mike Mottau got suspended. By the way, I am sure that meeting went well as Mottau is now an Islander which is another sign of annoyance. That may be a good thing.
Wade Dublewicz cost us a division a few years back. Then there was that one year where the Devils gift wrapped a playoff berth by not starting Marty Brodeur in the last game. What do they do? Roll over and play dead in the first round. But yet no matter how bad they look in the media or on the ice, they still give the Devils fits. Some years they even take the season series and by a huge margin. That does not make sense. The Chewbacca defense could apply here. New York will have another sub-par season this year more because of injury but I can guarantee that they will find a way to take 4 of 6 from New Jersey and possibly cost the Devils a division title. I can almost bank on this like the ducks that fly South for the Winter. It is almost that automatic and why I cannot stand the Islanders. The only good thing is maybe someday they will move to Canada.
Chris Wassel, The Program
I remember like it was yesterday when the Flyers were somewhat amusing to me. Then the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals started and I was not laughing anymore. Honestly I never did like Eric Lindros and even though the Devils won the Stanley Cup in 1995, Lindros and his crybaby act at the NHL Awards made me detest Philadelphia more. That is when I started calling them Filfthadelphia. Surely they had some nice names for me too. In 2000, the Flyers were up 3-1 on the Devils and I heard more insults than I could count after Game 4, I guaranteed tthat the Devils would shock their fanbase to the core and for once I was actually right. Patrik Elias scored twice in a Game 7 to send the Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals where they would raise the Cup after defeating Dallas in six. I ran for my life that night literally as Flyer fans were chasing me all the way to the 30th St. Station literally.
The contempt grew even after New Jersey won their third cup. Something was brewing and it was the Flyers actually starting by taking a playoff series in 2004 and then earlier this year. The hate has hit a fever pitch with this Philly team that plays borderline dirty to dirty. Ask about jokes that Chris Pronger sharpens his elbows before a game and some do not even chuckle. Then there is Daniel Carcillo who hits so far after a whistle I swear it was the next game. For an exclamation, where do all these goalies come from and yet the Flyers made the Stanley Cup Finals. What the hell man....what the hell?
(Ed. note: This was the first submission recieved... Rivalry, much?)
Growing up a Capitals fan, my hatred for the Pittsburgh Penguins spawned as they seemed to best the Caps during every post-season run. I witnessed them victimize the Caps en route to winning back-to-back Cup titles in 1991 and 1992. In 1995, DC lost to the flightless fowl after leading the playoff series 3-1. I was in need of a support group after the Pens upended the Caps in four-overtimes in 1996, which lead to (another) early upset of my team. I was sickened watching Jaromir Jagr score a goal off Calle Johansson's knee to end the 2000 playoff series, and again by the 4-1 first-round exit in 2001. And most recently, I had to cope with the implosion by Washington in the 2009 playoffs, due to Arm-Pittsburgh hosting a Yanni concert to force back-to-back games.
As if that wasn't enough to make me want to never use Heinz ketchup ever again- it didn't give me the warm-and-fuzzies when the league rigged the 2005 draft to help the Penguins and screw the Caps. They got Sidney Crosby, we got Sasha Pokulok. And thanks to Gary Bettman's ploy to have the Pittsburgh Penguins play the Capitals bi-weekly during the season, I've been able to find little niches to despise more and more every time these two teams face off: listening to every fan bemoan how much disrespect Ovechkin brings to the game while their prized baby-faced Captain chooses to not shake hands with the opposing team following a win, Tyler Kennedy's pig nose, faking a white out by distributing their own shirts, Crosby complaining to the referees that the crew was taking too long to clear the ice after an Alex Ovechkin hatty, the fact that they change their sweater design annually, the alliteration in their team name, well... you get the point.
At least I have consolation that the only time the Stanley Cup was ever presented in the shanty they so lovingly adorned with the nickname "the Igloo", it was to the 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings.
BOSTON BRUINS and TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
HabsFan10, Four Habs Fans
Ever cursed your way through an entire game of clutch and grab, rodeo-style hockey? The Toronto Maple Leafs practically invented that to slow down Montreal's powerhouse teams in the 50's and 60's. (Punch Imlach also invented global warming. True story). The Bruins take their lunch-bucket persona so seriously they pay their players like factory workers and trade the skilled ones away before they get too fancy or successful. Harry Sinden used to curse a blue streak every time "that nancy-boy Orr" took off from his own end and "did something crazy" like try and score. Les Canadiens have spent the better part of a century fighting the good fight against the Evil twins of the Original Six, but some of you might not know why the Leafs and Bruins deserve your scorn. We're here to help.
The arenas: The Bruins spent almost 70 years in the most rat infested, cramped, useless building in the NHL. The seats were too small, the rink wasn't even regulation sized, and the cheapass Bruins didn't even bother with the minimum standards for upkeep (like, I don't know, making sure the power stays on during the Stanley Cup final). Then they went and (cheaply) built the same rink AGAIN in 1996. Check back in 70 years and see how the Shawmut/Fleet/TDBanknorth/TD Garden is holding up, because the Bruins won't be upgrading.
The Leafs took the feel good story of an arena built at the height of the Great Depression and let it deteriorate into a crowded, dirty, miserable place to watch a miserable team. Oh, and it housed a pedophile ring in the basement for 30 odd years. Yikes. The Air Canada Centre is actually a pretty nice arena, except for the hundreds of empty seats in the Corporate sections at the start of every period. Methinks they need to have more sushi chefs and bartenders on hand so the bigwigs can get back to their seats in time to check their Blackberries and not cheer.
The fans: When Bruins fans aren't agonizing over the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox (again), they are letting thousands of Montreal fans buy all their playoff tickets. And then peeing on them in the crowd. Leaf fans are incredibly loyal. So are dogs. The difference? Kick a dog enough times and it will find someone else to love. At the start of this season, the Leafs Stanley Cup drought was 301 dog years.
Both fanbases have been blessed with exciting, Hall-of-Fame talents to watch over the years, who they promptly ignored in order to cheer assholes and thugs like Stan Jonathan, Eddie Shack, John Wensink, Darcy Tucker, Tie Domi, Terry O'Reilly, and new favourites like cavemen Milan Lucic and Dion Phaneuf. Both frachises lionized granite fisted, bodies-made-of-glass, never won anything power forwards in the 80's and 90's named Cam Neely and Wendel Clark. Both were fearsome competitors whenever they could climb out of the infirmary. Both won exactly nothing of consequence in their careers. Both had their numbers retired (or "honoured" in Wendel's case) for ... um, whatever they did besides winning.
Both teams continue to complain that they missed out on a championship due to refereeing. Dear Bruins fans: In 1979, you fucked up. You had too-many-men on the ice. Montreal scored. Montreal won. Please shut up about it. With your luck, you would have lost to the Rangers anyway.
Dear Leafs fans: Yes, Kerry Fraser missed the Gretzky high stick in 1993. You still had a Game 7 at home and didn't win. And if you had won, you weren't going to beat the best goalie of his generation at the zenith of his powers in the Finals, backed by a 102 point regular season team. You know that Kings team you couldn't beat in 7, Fraser call or no Fraser call? Montreal beat them in 5.
We could go on. We could mention the Bruins third jerseys. We could mention Toronto's indignant reaction every time they aren't televised on Saturday night. We could discuss the pompous ass known as Brian Burke, the homerism of Jack Edwards on NESN, the mind numbing amount of coverage the Leafs receive in Canada, Zdeno Chara, the Phil Kessel trade that made us angry both ways. The bottom line is, the Canadiens are the light. The Bruins and Leafs are the darkness, and everyone else is shades of grey in between. Step towards the light.
Kevin Schultz, Barry Melrose Rocks
Jeez, it's almost kind of mean to beat on Buffalo. And the material is so old and overdone it's not really right. I mean, there's Brett Hull. Hoo boy. And then, I mean, the Bills. That whole abomination. You almost feel kind of bad after a while.
So let that be a lesson to you, if you hate on this team this year. They're used to it so your hating is going to have to go deeper. You're going to have to break that hard, bony shell Buffalonians have built up over the years. You have to dig really deep, they've heard and been through it all.
Maybe just punch Ryan Miller in the nuts or something.
Sarah, Something's Bruin
I am a Bostonian, born and bred. If there's anything Boston sports fans love to do, it's hate. From the Yankees, to the Lakers, to the Jets and Colts - we hate, and we hate well, even if we're the underdog doing it. In fact, being the underdog seems to exacerbate the anger. The Montreal Canadiens are the perfect target for an angry, slighted Boston Sports Fan.
Twenty four cups? Yeah, we've got five, what of it? A hundred years of history? Whatever, we're closing in on 80. That stupid french bias? This is the United States of America, bitches. Your team is short, your throwback jerseys are stupid and cause your fans to get migraines or mistake you for the Maple Leafs (the horror!), your pregame ceremonies are so long I'm baffled that the ancient dudes you trot out on display don't fall asleep during them, and I still hate you all for whoever slashed my Bruins sticker in half when I was parked on St. Andre. I guess I should take heart that my car wasn't set on fire; granted, it was the off-season.
This season, before the Flyers unceremoniously bounced the Bruins from the playoffs, we were one game away from the Most Epic Conference Finals in my lifetime. Bruins vs. Habs. It would have been the third time this epic rivalry had a playoff showdown in so many years, and maybe it's for the best that the two teams didn't meet - for the good of the cities they both play in.
Actually, you know what? Screw that.
I want hate. I want devastation. I want someone on Montreal to be as large and in charge as Komisarek was two years ago, someone for Lucic to hate and beat the snot out of 6 games a year. I want Carey Price to stand on his head and elicit my wrath; I want Tuukka to do the same but better. I want Tim Thomas to linebacker-tackle a Kostitsyn again. I want Jack Edwards to foam at the mouth. I want Habs fans to boo our anthem so we can cheer theirs and make them look silly. They don't have Kovalev or Komisarek anymore, but they do still have O'Purse Stealer and Caaaaaaaaaaaareeeeeeeeey. This team has been easily hateable for 100 years (is that celebration over yet? I mean really.) and will continue to do so for years to come. Bring it on, bleu blanc et rouge. We're all ready for you.
Kevin Schultz, Barry Melrose Rocks
You know, I'll be honest I couldn't find anyone to hate on the Sens. Is that weird? I guess that means they're kind of tolerable. Or maybe no one really gives a shit about them good or bad. To try and give you some kind of instruction on how to direct your hate, here are things I hate about the Senators.
- Sylvain Turgeon. I was growing up when Pierre was on the Islanders. Sylvain always seemed like the evil Turgeon. Plus the Senators were 11-3-4 against the Islanders on Long Island between '92 and '00. That was irritating as hell.
- They seem like Eastern Canada's bandwagon team. Guess that's what happens when you're not even 20 years old.
- Do you believe that once upon a time the NHL actually EXPANDED to Canada?
- Do you even know that Ottawa is the capital of Canada? What the hell is that about? Oh right, Toronto sucks.
- The girls in Ottawa would be hotter if they had French-Canadian accents. But they don't so go to Montreal.
- Oh! here's a good reason to hate them: Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza play(ed) there.
(Ed. Note: Moving along....)
Vance, Bangin' Panger
Oh the Carolina Hurricanes; the down-South joke that somehow has a Cup while my Sabres do not. Though really; they have our Cup. Aren't they proud of themselves, going through a Sabres team who's defense corps, due to untimely and freak injuries, featured; seriously, Rory Fitzpatrick, Nathan Paetsch, Jeff Jillson, and Doug Janik. Then they get Edmonton in the Final; what is this; 1983? No, it's not, because they're the Hurricanes, not the Hartford Whalers. Least deserving Cup winner ever? Least deserving Cup winner ever.
Yeah; I know; I'd love some whine with those delicious sour grapes, but think about it, do you know a single person that likes, hell, even respects, the Hurricanes? Still racking the ole noggin, eh? Well, give it up. This ain't NASCAR or College Basketball, so none of those Carolinans (since the franchise apparently cannot identify with a single city or state, what jokes) could care. You'd think they'd be appreciative of the franchise they stole from a good hockey city like Hartford, but I guess they're too busy preparing for that hurricane that comes around every 20 years.
Kevin Schultz, Barry Melrose Rocks
Yes, no we're up to The Division That Canada Hates. This division is the poster child for all that is wrong with NHL economics and expansion. However, most of the teams in it are doing well for themselves (Atlanta not included). Two have won Cups and a third is a storied franchise that got shafted when the divisions realigned.
The Cats, however, are useless. They're playing in a state which historically doesn't care about pro sports in a town that cares more about partying and tans than it does sports. Not only that, they play in Dwayne's Town. Which has been renamed Dwayne and LeBron's Timeshare. They say they average 15,000 fans per game, but it looks like half that on TV. They robbed Mike Milbury blind for Roberto Luongo and have nothing to show for it. They couldn't sign Gudbranson when other top picks got their money and some are now in the league scoring goals.
Every year, it looks like it's their year. Every year, it looks like this might be the year they sneak into 8th place and have their chance to get annihilated in the playoffs. And every year they fold like paper and find their way into the draft's Top 10. And still have nothing to show for it (or had to give it away when it wouldn't re-sign). They're recuiting players to SOUTH FLORIDA. To MI-FUCKING-AMI ("Everyday like a Mardi Gras everybody party all day / No work all play ok" as Will Smith once said) and can't. Do. It.
Yeesh. Hamilton Panthers, anyone?
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Kevin Schultz, Barry Melrose Rocks
This is the Gary Bettman Southern Experiment that went sort of right. I say sort of because while they did manage to take home a Stanley Cup it barely counted. They won the last season before the lockout -- no way that actually counts, right? -- and they beat a Darryl Sutter coached team. That's like beating up the dumbest kid in school. There's no pride in that.
At least we all got some fun out of watching this team off the ice the last few years, huh? They had the movie star owner fightning with co-owner Len Barrie. And they hired Barry Melrose -- as much as we love him here, that was the most epic of epic fails -- only to let the Gamblin' Man Rick Tocchet steer the ship. It's great comedic theatre. Can we call them Islanders South?
But now they have wonder kid Stamkos, so there's something good there. Except he looks like the kids they use as bait on To Catch a Predator. So there's that.
Sarah, Something's Bruin
There are probably people in this world that hate the Capitals a lot more than I do. My hatred escalated last year, though, when DC's team went on that ridiculous winning streak...right when my own team happened to be on our worst losing streak since the 50s. (oh hey, there was hockey before Alex Ovechkin showed up? Yeah, there was. Lots of it, son). Yeah, I was a little angry. Angrier still when the steamrollin' Caps came to town and destroyed my hapless team. No mercy, not even from Ovechkin's elbows - watching him run my favorite young D-man three times in about 90 seconds was rage-inducing for sure.
I can't even escape the devastation in the minor leagues. The Hershey Bears, pride of the AHL, happen to be the AHL affiliate of the Capitals, and they perennially steamroll the Providence Bruins - most recently, in a heartbreaking 2008 Conference finals series. Those jerks came into our building with their cowbells and their obnoxious jerseys (who the hell makes their jerseys chocolate colored? I mean come on.) and kicked our asses. We just can't win.
It'd be easier to take if there was some history behind it. At least losing to the Canadiens is a point of pride; they can wave their 20 bajillion cup rings in your face, and all you can do is grumble and take it. Losing to the Capitals is like playing a game of one-on-one against the 16-year-old kid who used to suck (hey, I remember the 90s as well as anyone), but who's been magically injected with talent and can now shoot and score from anywhere, and who just rubs it in your face over and over again, even though you're pretty good too. Embarrassing. Annoying. You just sort of want to punch them in the face and walk away.
I can't count the number of times I've had "Oh you're just jealous of our offense." said to me, all condescending-like. Yeah, okay, you guys are awesome offensively, and in the regular season, you know what? I frigging am jealous. I wish my team had an Ovechkin, or a Backstrom, or hell, I'd even take Brooks Laich. A 30-goal scorer of any sort would be nice. But defense and lack of playoff-implosion wins Cups, not explosive regular-season offense. Good luck with that one, oh ye San Jose Sharks of the east. Call me when you manage that one.
(Ed. Note: Stay tuned for the Western Conference tomorrow!)