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"I Hate You Guys"

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Watching the Red Devils dismemberment of the Gunners this morning, and looking forward to the Canucks meeting the Blackhawks tomorrow evening, brings to mind the rivalries and, yes "hatred" that lies at the heart of the stirring contest that enthralls us sports fans at every viewing.

We hear all about it,The Rivalry.  It is a topic of debate, a signpost to remember the truly legendary contests that hatred of your fellow competitor brings.

Sportsmanship is important, of course, and the word hatred is one that often is abused.  But you know what I mean.  It might not be the "hate" that these rivalries can lead to ( watch this entire series if you are interested.  This one here is insane, from Brazil ).  We are not at that level in hockey.  Thank God !  Though I do wonder if there might have been some random violence in London with the results from the derby at Emirates Stadium.

In our sport, and perhaps in all of them, the playoffs are where the rivalries are really germinated.  Alexandre Burrows laid it out pretty succinctly here...

Winger Alex Burrows smiled when told of Eakins’ comments after the game-day skate. Burrows stressed he meant no disrespect to the Oilers, but noted it usually takes some heated playoff battles for two teams to develop a bonafide rivalry.

The Canucks and Oilers last met in the playoffs in 1992, when Burrows was 11 years old.

"I view his comments as him wanting to get his team ready for tonight," Burrows said. "I think rivalries are often developed in the playoffs. I haven’t seen them in the playoffs the last 10 years. I like to call L.A., Chicago, the teams that we have faced more often in the playoffs, as our rivals.

"Maybe geographically, they are. A lot of people from Edmonton live in Vancouver and the other way around. There is always a good atmosphere in the building. Here you see a lot of Canucks jerseys and the same when they come to Rogers Arena, there are a lot of Oilers fans. So that maybe creates a bit of a rivalry, but it’s the playoffs when you play six or seven tough games in a couple of weeks, that is where it really develops."

and perhaps that is how athletes view it.  For fans and observers, it becomes a more a matter of our biases, and personal experiences.  I for instance, "hate" the Calgary Flames because of personal experiences that were less than stellar at a young age.  It is there.  I have relished the Sedin Era, because they seem to make Alberta their personal Sedinery playground, but also because of the playoffs. ( 1989, "Peplinski kicked it in !" ). It is why this was so satisfying by Bure a few years later.

That is just me though.  I know folks that would probably spit like a Dog River denizen a the mention of Woolerten whenever the results of 2011 and the Bruins are brought up.  Others will talk of the Leafs, based on the early 90's, and how much fun it was to hear Hughson scream Greg Adams name.

But that is just the players. It is us, the fans that pay the bills and buy the jerseys, that add the juice that makes the game so enthralling and compelling to watch.  No doubt, there will be multiple mentions of Burrows "slaying the Dragon", and the game on Sunday will probably be much more fun to watch because it is the Hawks and not, say, the Blue Jackets or Panthers.

But the question remains. Are the Blackhawks the Canucks' biggest rival still ? Or does Hollywood North detest HollyWood South more now ? Of the many teams that hate the Canucks, or have over the years, who is "The Rival". right now ?  I would vote for the Kings below, myself, because they are the top dog, and beat the Canucks along the way the first time.

But that is only my personal bias.  What is yours ? Weigh in on the poll and in the comments below.