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Rivalries in the National Hockey League (NHL) have occurred between many teams and cities. Rivalries have arisen for many different reasons, the primary ones include geographic proximity, familiarity with opponents, on-ice incidents (violence), and cultural, linguistic, or national pride.

The importance of these various factors has varied widely throughout the history of the league.

Early history

During the earliest days of the NHL, the league was limited strictly to Central Canada, and all cities in the league were in close proximity, making for bitter rivalries all around. In addition, Montrealmarker had two teams representing that city's English-French divide, as the "French" Canadiens battled the "English" Wanderers (and later the Maroons). Rivalries also existed with other leagues, such as the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. It was not until 1926 that the NHL took over sole ownership of hockey's top trophy, the Stanley Cup. By that time, the league had begun expanding into the U.S., and new rivalries were created. Rapid expansion to the U.S. for a short time created a cross-town rivalry in New York Citymarker, between the Rangers and the Americans. The economic turmoil of the Great Depression and the Second World War, however, forced several teams to fold, with the result that by 1942 the NHL consisted of only six teams.

Original Six rivalries

From 1942 to 1967, only six teams (the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs) played in the NHL. With so few opponents, teams played more frequently, and games were often underscored by personal rivalries between players. These personal and team rivalries persisted for many years, as the turnover rate on NHL rosters was very low. At one point or another during this era all the teams had animosity towards one another.

The strongest rivalries were:

Maple Leafs-Canadiens rivalry

The rivalry between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens is the oldest and most bitter rivalry in the history of the National Hockey League. From 1944 to 1978, the two teams met each other in the playoffs 12 times, and faced off in five Stanley Cup Finals. While the on-ice competition is fierce, the Leafs-Habs rivalry is actually symbolic of a much deeper cleavage in Canadian history and society — that between English- and French-Canadians. It's the rivalry between Canada'smarker largest cities: Torontomarker, the largest and the heart of Anglo-Canada and Montrealmarker, the second-largest and the heart of Franco-Canada.

From the time of the Britishmarker conquest of Quebecmarker at the Plains of Abrahammarker in 1759, the chief tension in what eventually became Canada has been between English- and French-speaking Canadians. The English Canadians were for the most part of Britishmarker ethnic stock and Protestant, and possessed conservative and imperialist loyalties. The French Canadians, meanwhile, were not only of French descent, but were also Roman Catholic in religion, politically liberal, and continentalist in economic thought.

When the NHL was created in 1917, these differences received the opportunity to play themselves out in a rivalry between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. The Maple Leafs' fanbase consisted mainly of English-speaking Canadians of British descent; in fact, the team's logo was in essence a stylized version of the Canadian Army's Cap Badge Insignia during World War I. This held particular significance for Leaf owner Conn Smythe, who had served as an artillery officer during the Great War. As late as the 1970s, a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, was hung in the Leafs' home arena, Maple Leaf Gardensmarker, and God Save the Queen was sung as an anthem before the game (the former practice was famously discontinued by the team's owner at the time, Harold Ballard, who asked, "The Queen doesn't pay anything to get in, does she?"). The Canadiens, meanwhile, captured the imaginations of French-speaking fans, mainly concentrated in the province of Quebec (and to a slightly lesser degree, English-speaking Catholic and Jewish fans in Montreal, as well as English-speaking Catholic fans in eastern Ontario and the Maritimes). In stark contrast to the anthem practice in Toronto, the Habs pioneered the use of the current Canadian national anthem, "O Canada," at the Montreal Forummarker.

While certainly heated during the 1940s and 1950s, the Leafs-Habs rivalry was particularly acute during the 1960s; one of the two teams would capture the Stanley Cup each year in the decade, with the exceptions of 1961 and 1970. The rivalry perhaps reached its zenith in the 1967 season, when both teams met in the Stanley Cup Finals during the centennial year of Canadian Confederation. The city of Montreal was hosting Expo 67 that year, and the Canadiens were expected to beat the Leafs quite handily. Still, underdog Toronto upset the Habs to capture the Cup.
Hockey Knights in Canada mural in Toronto's College Station
After 1967, the rivalry cooled slightly due to NHL expansion and realignment. The fanbases of both teams began to erode somewhat: new franchises in Vancouvermarker (the Canucks), Calgarymarker (the Flames), Edmontonmarker (the Oilers) and Winnipegmarker (the Jets) captured the allegiances of English-speaking fans in Western Canada, while the Quebec Nordiques competed with the Canadiens for the loyalties of Francophone fans within Quebec from 1979 to 1995. From 1981 to 1998, Torontomarker and Montrealmarker were in opposite conferences — the Maple Leafs in the Clarence Campbell/Western Conference and the Canadiens in the Prince of Wales/Eastern Conference. The fortunes of the two teams since 1967 have also seen a marked difference; the Habs have won ten Stanley Cup championships since that year, while the Maple Leafs still have yet to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. Toronto came close to reaching the Finals in 1993, where they would have faced the Wales Conference champion Habs in the 100th anniversary year of the Stanley Cup. However, they were narrowly defeated in the Campbell Conference Finals by the Los Angeles Kings. This rivalry is featured in the murals of Torontomarker's Collegemarker subway station.

On May 29th, 1992, Pat Burns resigned as the Canadiens head coach and was hired as the Maple Leafs head coach that same day, adding more fuel to the fire.

In 1998, the Leafs moved into the Eastern Conference's Northeast Division, along with the Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, and Boston Bruins. This has served to rekindle the rivalry somewhat, although the two teams have yet to appear in a playoff series against each other.

Bruins-Canadiens rivalry

The Bruins-Canadiens rivalry is a rivalry in the National Hockey League (NHL) between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens, two teams that are considered a part of the Original Six. The Bruins are the Canadiens' arch rivals in the United Statesmarker. It is considered one of the most bitter in the NHL, and especially as the Bruins and Canadiens have played each other more times, in regular season play, than any other two currently existing teams in NHL history. As of the start of the 2007–08 NHL season, the Bruins have won just over 255 of these matches, scoring a total of 1,814 goals against the Canadiens, with the Canadiens winning over 320 of them, scoring a total of 2,071 goals against the Bruins, with 105 other games between the two teams ending in ties, all before the 2004–05 NHL lockout's rule changes mandated the "shootout" format to break such tie games, going back all the way to the Bruins' first NHL season of 1924–25. As of the start (on April 16, 2009) of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs initial matchup between Boston and Montreal, the two teams have met for a total of 159 games, some 42 more games than two other "Original Six" teams, the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Boston/Montreal number of playoff game appearances against each other is the highest in NHL postseason history.

In the 1950s, the Canadiens would defeat the Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals three times. Also, during the 1952 playoff semi-finals, Maurice Richard was knocked out in the seventh game but returned to score the series-winning goal. One of the most famous NHL photos is the one of Richard and Bruins goaltender "Sugar" Jim Henry shaking hands after the conclusion of the series; Richard has a cut above his eyebrow while Henry has a black eye.

In a game against the Bruins on March 13, 1955, Rocket Richard was given a match penalty and suspended for the remainder of the season for deliberately injuring Hal Laycoe. Richard skated at Laycoe, who dropped his gloves to fight. The incident was exacerbated by Richard repeatedly breaking away to attack Laycoe with hockey sticks, and then assaulting linesman Cliff Thompson who had attempted to restrain him. The suspension prevented Montreal from finishing first in the league and from winning the Stanley Cup. It personally cost Richard the league scoring title. (The scoring title eventually went to Richard's Habs teammate, Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion. Geoffrion was booed by the Montrealmarker faithful when he passed Richard for the point lead on the last day of the season.)

While the teams played each other often, the rivalry became truly pronounced in the 1970s, when both were yearly contenders. In 1971, despite the Bruins finishing first in the league and shattering many NHL scoring records, they lost in the first round to the Canadiens in seven games. This ended a potential Bruins dynasty (although they would win the Stanley Cup the following season). Don Cherry's "Lunch Pail Athletic Club" lost to the Habs in both the 1977 and 1978 Stanley Cup finals. Canadiens fans remember the rough tactics that Cherry's players used against Guy Lafleur, whose head was swathed in bandages at the end of the 1978 series after repeated high-sticking from Bruins players.

The seminal moment in the history of the rivalry was probably Game 7 of the 1979 Semi-Finals. After a rough and tumble series which saw both sides win at home through the first six games, the Bruins took a lead in the closing four minutes of game 7 in Montreal, thanks to a goal by Rick Middleton (Ken Dryden would later remark this as "the most beautiful goal" that he ever let in). The Bruins were charged with a minor penalty for having seven players on the ice, Lafleur scored the tying goal on the ensuing power play, and Montreal's Yvon Lambert scored in overtime to win the series. The win allowed Montreal to advance to the Stanley Cup finals, which they won for the fourth consecutive year.

The rivalry continued throughout the 1980s, mainly due to a division-oriented playoff format that seemed to pair the teams every year. Some memorable brawls took place, including one which continued into the tunnel between players who had been sent off. In 1988, the Bruins won the playoff series against the Canadiens in the latter's Montreal Forummarker on the way to advancing to the Stanley Cup Final. The next year, the Canadiens beat the Bruins on their way to the finals. In 1990, the Bruins finished off the Canadiens in the Boston Gardenmarker on their way to the Stanley Cup Finals and would also win the 1991 and 1992 playoff match-ups against the Canadiens, the last one being a 4–0 sweep. Part of the Bruins' victories over the Canadiens was due to goaltender Andy Moog who was often referred to as the "greatest Hab killer" the Bruins ever had. Ironically, Moog signed with the Canadiens for the 1997–98 season and helped the Habs to their first playoff series win in several seasons.

After meeting in the playoffs for nine straight years from 1984 to 1992, the two teams didn't face each other in the postseason in 1993. As for the Canadiens, they went on to win their most recent Stanley Cup with 10 straight overtime victories. In 1994, again the Canadiens were knocked out in the first round by the Bruins. Contributing to the animosity, the Canadiens defeated the Bruins in the first round of both the 2002 and the 2004 Stanley Cup playoffs, despite the Bruins being seeded higher. The Bruins had finished first in the Eastern Conference in 2002, and second in 2004.

The Montreal Canadiens for the first time in many years did better than the Bruins in the 2007–08 regular season, winning all match-ups between the two teams. During the last regular season game between the two teams, Steve Begin, who would become a Bruin himself in the 2009-10 Bruins season, angered hockey fans while still a Canadien when he cross-checked star center Marc Savard from behind, resulting in a broken bone in Savard's back. Fate led the Canadiens to meet the Bruins in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, which Montreal won in seven games, which showed the Montreal team's potential for having problems with hard-checking opponents such as the Bruins. The Philadelphia Flyers, just such a hard-checking team through most of their own history, proved this by ousting the Canadiens in the following series that Montreal competed in, with a 4-1 games-won record.

The 2008–09 regular season, however, resulted in an almost complete reversal of the previous year's fortunes for the two teams, as out of the six meetings of the Bruins and Canadiens (down from the eight in previous seasons, due to NHL scheduling changes across the entire league) the Bruins gained a total of 11 of twelve total possible standings points in those six games, while Montreal only gained a total of four standings points in those same six games. The Bruins ended the regular season atop the NHL Eastern Conference standings with 116 points, while Montreal was lucky to "squeak into" the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs with 93 points, and as fate would have it, the two teams would once again meet in the 2009 NHL postseason playoffs, for the thirty-second time in their long history. Boston won the series in four games sweeping the Canadiens for the first time since the 1992 playoffs and for the first time in franchise history sweeping them in the first round, before the Bruins fell in a tough seven game second-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The presence of Jack Adams Award-winning coach Claude Julien, and forwards Michael Ryder and Steve Begin all on the Bruins for the 2009-10 season, all as former Canadiens personnel not long before, looks to once again stoke the Boston-Montreal rivalry.

Battle of Quebec

Up until 1980, the Montreal Canadiens were the only NHL team in the province of Quebec. When the Quebec Nordiques entered the NHL from the dismantled World Hockey Association, a bitter rivalry developed between the two teams. They were both competing for support within the province. The rivalry started in 1981–82, when the Nordiques beat the Adams Division first-seeded Canadiens in game 5 of the first round of the playoffs. The bitter rivalry grew in intensity during the 1983–84 playoffs during game 6 of the 2nd round of the playoffs. A gruesome brawl dubbed as the "Vendredi Saint" brawl, or the Good Friday Massacre broke out at the Montreal Forum. The battle lasted for over 10 minutes and saw Peter Stastny as well as Dale Hunter ejected from the game. The Canadiens ended up defeating the Nordiques in that round. The Nordiques finally got their revenge and beat the Habs in the 2nd round of the 1984–85 playoffs. Further development of the rivalry occurred in the 1986–87 playoffs, when the Habs beat the Nordiques in 7 games in the 2nd round. The last time the Nordiques and Habs would meet before the Nordiques left Quebec City for Denver, was in the 1992–93 playoffs. The Canadiens beat the Nordiques in 6 games during a first round marked by intense physical play.

Atlantic Division rivalries

The New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, and Pittsburgh Penguins have all been in the same division since 1982, developing strong rivalries with each other; The New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers have been in the same division since 1974. The "Battle of New York" is a rivalry between the Rangers and the Islanders. With the renaming of the Patrick Division to the Atlantic Division in 1993, minus the Penguins (they were moved to the Northeast Division until 1998), the rivalries became established and historic in their own way, starting with the Rangers/Devils Game 7 match in the Eastern Conference Finals. With the realignment in 1998 the Devils, Flyers, Islanders, and Rangers remained together in the Atlantic Division with the Penguins returning to the group. From 1994–95 through 2006–07, the Flyers and Devils reigned exclusively as the division champions. In the post-lockout NHL, the Atlantic Division rivalries have become more intense with season-ending comebacks, shrewd trades, and more games played against each other during the regular season. This is the only division in the NHL where all its members have won the Stanley Cup at least twice in their own franchise's existence.

The strongest rivalries are:

Southeast Division rivalries

The Southeast Division is the division with most of the teams from the NHL's expansion into the Southern United States. It is comprised of the Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes (formerly the Hartford Whalers), Atlanta Thrashers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Florida Panthers. Two teams in this division have won the Stanley Cup, the Lightning in 2004 and the Hurricanes in 2006. With the division gaining power in the post-lockout NHL, many rivalries have developed. The Panthers and the Lightning have a rivalry within Florida.

Most rivalries involve the Washington Capitals. The Capitals–Hurricanes rivalry has existed since 2000, since in almost every season since then, the two teams have battled for the division championship. However the Capitals' biggest rivals are the Pittsburgh Penguins. In total, the two teams have met eight times in the playoffs. Despite trailing in 7 of the 8 series, Pittsburgh has won all but the 1994 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. They first met in the 1991 Patrick Division Finals, when the Penguins defeated the Capitals in five games, en route to capturing the Stanley Cup. The rivalry was intense during the early 2000s when the Penguins beat the Capitals in the first round in consecutive seasons (1999–00, 2000–01). More recently, with the drafting and emergence of Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin in Washington, and Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh, the rivalry has heated up again, with controversial comments that Semin made about Crosby in the media and physical altercations taking place between Ovechkin and Malkin during games.

The Hurricanes have recently become rivals of the New Jersey Devils, the two teams meeting four times in the playoffs since 2001. Carolina has come out on top in three of those series.

Battle of Alberta

The Battle of Alberta is the bitter rivalry between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League (NHL). The two teams are based in the cities of Edmontonmarker, the provincial capital of Alberta and Calgarymarker, the province's largest city.

The rivalry was at its most intense in the 1980s, when the two teams combined to win 6 Stanley Cups in seven seasons (1984–1990), five of them to the Oilers, during a streak in which an Albertan team was in the finals for eight straight seasons (1983–1990). This showdown featured many top players of the time, including Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Lanny McDonald, Doug Gilmour, Gary Roberts, Joe Nieuwendyk, and Mike Vernon. During the 1990s neither team had much success, leading to a lessening of the feud. When each team advanced to the Cup Finals in subsequent years, 2004 and 2006 due to the NHL Lockout, the rivalry began to become more heated once again.

As both cities are rivals when it comes to many things (not just pro sports), the Battle of Alberta label has been applied to various other endeavors, most notably the rivalry between the Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League (CFL).

Battle of Ontario

The Battle of Ontario is a title applied to the rivalry between the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs. It is one of the most prolific rivalries currently in the National Hockey League. The two teams compete for the large hockey fanbase of Ontariomarker, and are known to have very divided sets of fans. This popular rivalry often surfaces both during the regular season, as the two teams have been in the same division (the Northeast) since the 1998–99 season, and in the playoffs, where they have met 4 times in the last decade.

Avalanche-Red Wings rivalry

The groundwork for the rivalry between the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings was laid well before Denver even had an NHL franchise, during games between Detroit and the Quebec Nordiques. Once the Nordiques moved to Denver, the small rivalry still existed. Also, in a regular season game between Detroit and the Montreal Canadiens, the Wings scored on Patrick Roy 9 times, leading to Roy demanding a trade. Roy was eventually traded to Colorado and was a huge factor in the rivalry.

The rivalry was largely predicated on the competitiveness of both teams in the late 1990s and early 21st century. From 1996 to 2002, the teams met in five playoff series, three times in the Western Conference Finals. Out of those seven seasons, the teams combined to win five Stanley Cups and four Presidents' Trophies.

In Game 6 of the 1996 Western Conference Finals, Claude Lemieux checked Kris Draper into the boards as Draper was leaving the ice and Draper was severely injured. He suffered a broken jaw, broken nose, shattered cheek and orbital bone. Draper's injuries were severe enough to require reconstructive surgery and his jaw was wired shut for five weeks. After the traditional handshakes that take place after a playoff series, many of Draper's teammates were shocked at the severity of his injuries and were furious at Lemieux for inflicting them. Former Red Wing winger Dino Ciccarelli said of Lemieux, "I can't believe I shook the guy's frigging hand." During postgame interviews, Claude Lemieux, when informed that Draper's injuries appeared to be severe, stated, "Nobody wants to see a player get injured. I didn't try to hurt him, and I'm sorry he's hurt." Following the game, a heated exchange allegedly took place between Scotty Bowman, Detroit's head coach and Lemieux, while Lemieux was walking with his wife and young son, ironically named after friend and former teammate, Brendan Shanahan, who at that time played for the Hartford Whalers.

Although the two teams played without incident on three occasions during the next regular season, their final matchup on March 26, 1997, resulted in what became known as the "Brawl in Hockeytown." Kirk Maltby, Rene Corbet, Brent Severyn and Jamie Pushor were involved in altercations in the first period, igniting tension between the rivals. At the 18:22 mark, a brawl started when Igor Larionov and Peter Forsberg collided on ice. Darren McCarty, who filled the role of enforcer for the Red Wings ended up breaking free from the grasp of a linesman and pursued Lemieux. Lemieux fell to the ice and turtled, but McCarty continued to avenge his Grind Line teammate, landing several blows and driving a knee to Lemieux's head, before they were separated by officials. The fight ended with winners on both sides. Uwe Krupp bested Jamie Pushor, Mike Vernon sent Patrick Roy to the bench with a cut over his right eye, although Roy landed more punches. Igor Larionov sent Peter Forsberg to the bench for the rest of the game by aggravating a previous injury. The Shanahan/Foote fight ended in a draw that was quickly broken up by officials. The ice was stained with blood, before it was resurfaced and the game continued, with Detroit winning in overtime.

During the next season, Joe Louis Arenamarker was the site of another Red Wings/Avalanche brawl, featuring a fight between goaltenders Patrick Roy and Chris Osgood, as well as another matchup between Darren McCarty and Claude Lemieux. This altercation resulted in more severe penalties, earning both goalies minor, major, misconduct, and game misconduct penalties.

Early upsets to either team in the playoffs have kept the rival franchises from meeting in the post-season from 2002 to 2007. They did meet in 2008 where Detroit swept them 4 games to none. The only players to appear in this series that were involved in all of the previous series were Adam Foote, Peter Forsberg (both recently obtained), Joe Sakic, Nicklas Lidström, Chris Osgood, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty (recently obtained). Since that time, the rivalry has died down, largely due to Colorado's decline as well as the fact that many of the key players on both teams either retired, or are playing for other teams. However, in a much smaller brawl in 2002, veteran goaltender Dominik Hasek attempted to engage Patrick Roy in a fight, but tripped on a piece of equipment. Roy seemed ready to fight a third Red Wings goaltender, but the pair were restrained by officials.

During the teams' final regular-season meeting of the 2007-08 season, in Denvermarker, Ian Laperriere threw a forearm at Red Wings star (and captain) Nicklas Lidstrom's head. This caused a response by Red Wing Aaron Downey fighting Laperriere, and coach Mike Babcock got into a shouting match with Avalanche assistant coach Tony Granato.

Year Where they met in playoffs Result of series Result of playoffs
1996 Western Conference finals Col 4, Det 2 Col wins Cup
1997 Western Conference finals Det 4, Col 2 Det wins Cup
1998 Did not meet N/A Det wins Cup
1999 Western Conference semifinals Col 4, Det 2 Col loses to eventual Cup winner Dallas
2000 Western Conference semifinals Col 4, Det 1 Col loses to eventual Cup finalist Dallas (New Jersey wins Cup)
2001 Did not meet N/A Col wins Cup
2002 Western Conference finals Det 4, Col 3 Det wins Cup
2003 Did not meet N/A Both lose in first round (New Jersey wins Cup)
2004 Did not meet N/A Both lose in Western Conference semifinals (Tampa Bay wins Cup)
2005 No season N/A N/A
2006 Did not meet N/A Det loses in first round, Col loses in Conference semifinals (Carolina wins Cup)
2007 Did not meet N/A Det loses in Western Conference finals, Col did not qualify for playoffs (Anaheim wins Cup)
2008 Western Conference semifinals Det 4, Col 0 Det wins Cup
2009 Did not meet N/A Col did not qualify for playoffs, Det loses to eventual Cup winner Pittsburgh

Blues-Blackhawks rivalry

Not unlike the Major League Baseball rivalry between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues share an intense hatred of each other. Separated by 300 miles and at one time owned by the same man (Arthur Wirtz, who had a stake in the St. Louis Arenamarker, where the 'Hawks farm club, the St. Louis Braves, played before the Blues entered the NHL in 1967), the clubs have been in the same division (Western 1970–74, Smythe 1974–81, Norris 1981–93, Central 1993–present) since 1970. The matchups reached their zenith in the early '90s, when both teams had well-known stars such as Denis Savard, Chris Chelios and Ed Belfour for the Hawks and Brett Hull, Adam Oates and Curtis Joseph for the Blues and played in old arenas (St. Louis Arenamarker and Chicago Stadiummarker) that were regarded as two of the loudest in the league.

The most notable moment in the rivalry was the 1993 Norris Division Semifinal: Chicagomarker had won the division handily but were swept by the Blues, winning the series on an overtime goal. Belfour, who said he had been interfered with on the goal by Hull, went on to cause thousands of dollars' worth of damage to the visiting locker room at the Arena, breaking a coffeemaker, hot tub and television among other objects. To this day Belfour refuses to appear in regular-season games in St. Louismarker: the only exception coming in 1999 when he replaced Roman Turek for the Dallas Stars in the third period of a 4–4 game, and only after Turek had allowed four unanswered goals. When he was spotted skating onto the ice, the Savvis Centermarker crowd greeted him with the "Bellll-foooour" chant, first popularized in the '93 series. Ironically, Hull and "The Eagle" were Dallas teammates in 1998–99, and both critical in the Stars' narrow Cup win that summer, which came at the expense of the Buffalo Sabres and Belfour's former teammate Dominik Hasek.

Although the Hawks have had a large string of bad fortune under Craig Hartsburg, Dirk Graham and Bob Pulford, keeping them out of the playoffs in recent years, whilst the Blues had made the playoffs for 25 successive years (a streak ending with the 2005–2006 season), the Blues and Blackhawks did meet in the 2002 Western Conference Quarterfinals. The Blues won that series 4 games to 1.

Kings-Ducks rivalry

Along with the enmity shared between the city of Los Angelesmarker and adjacent Orange Countymarker similar to baseball's Freeway Series, the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks share an on-ice rivalry due to sheer geographic proximity. The two teams are situated in the same metropolitan area, and share a television market. The rivalry started with the Ducks' inaugural season in 1993–94, and has since continued.

The Kings last made an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in the 1992–93 season, but have popped back into the playoff picture on four different seasons. The Ducks since their inauguration have made the playoffs five times. As of 2008–09, the Kings and Ducks have never met in the playoffs, nor made the playoffs in the same year. Since 2003, the Ducks recent success in the playoffs, topped with the winning of the Stanley Cup in 2006–2007 has slightly bolstered Anaheim's fan base, but the Kings fan base still remains intact with loyal fans despite a recent lack of success.

During regular season (and, to some extent, pre-season) games, Kings fans arrive at the Honda Centermarker in numbers for away games against the Ducks, and recently Ducks fans have done the same at Staples Centermarker, causing a goal by either team to be celebrated almost as loud as if the home team had scored . Games between the Southern California crosstown-rivals are often very physical and fight-filled. The rivalry was showcased for the NHL premier in London at the start of the 2007–08 NHL season with two games between the teams.

Kings-Oilers rivalry

The rivalry between the Edmonton Oilers and the Los Angeles Kings began more or less the instant the Oilers began playing in the NHL in the 1979–80 NHL season. Among the first year Oilers' players included a young Wayne Gretzky, who instantly challenged for the Art Ross Trophy against the Kings' Marcel Dionne. In the end, Gretzky and Dionne were both tied with 137 points, but the award was given to Dionne, who had two more goals (53 vs. Gretzky's 51). It should also be noted that Gretzky played 79 games to Dionne's full count of 80. Gretzky remarked during a press conference at which the scoring title was awarded to Dionne that he had been taught "that an assist was good as a goal".

The two teams would not meet in the playoffs until the 1981–82 NHL season. That season, Gretzky shattered the NHL record books with points in a season with 212 (92 goals and 120 assists). The Oilers also jumped to the top of their division despite playing in their third NHL season and had the third best record in the league. The Kings, after a fairly impressive 1980–81 season, slumped to having the fifth worst record in the 21 team NHL. They only made the playoffs, being fourth in the same division as the Oilers, because the Colorado Rockies had an even worse record in their last season there. This set the stage for the top-seeded, heavily-favored Oilers to meet in the first round against the Kings. After a two-game split in Edmontonmarker, Game 3 in Los Angelesmarker began with a commanding Oilers 5–0 lead after two periods. But in a miraculous comeback, the Kings managed to tie the game 5–5 in the third period, scoring the tying goal with 5 seconds left on a two-man advantage. The Kings would later win the game 6–5 in overtime. This game is often referred to as the Miracle on Manchester. The Oilers struck back in Game 4 to send the series back to Edmonton for the deciding game in a best of five series. However, it was the Kings who upset the Oilers and advanced to the next round.

For the next two seasons, the Kings would miss the playoffs completely while the Oilers competed in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1983 and won their first Stanley Cup in 1984. Both finals were played against the dynasty New York Islanders. The two teams finally met again in 1985, but this time the Oilers defeated the Kings in three straight games. The Oilers would go on to win their second straight Stanley Cup. They met again in 1987 under a new best of seven playoff format for the first round, and again the Oilers would win, this time in five games, and again the Oilers went on to win the Stanley Cup. In 1988, the Kings were again blown out of the first round, but by the Calgary Flames, while Gretzky led the Oilers to another Stanley Cup.

The entire world of sports was shocked on August 9, 1988 upon the announcement of the Oilers trading Wayne Gretzky along with Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley, to the Kings for two rising young players (Jimmy Carson and Martin Gelinas), three first-round draft picks, and $15 million.

Gretzky would lead the Kings in the 1988–89 NHL season to vast improvements. For the first time, the Kings had a better season record than Edmonton, finishing second in the Smythe Division over the third place Oilers. This also led to another first round match up between the Kings and Oilers. This time, it was the Kings, with Gretzky, against the Oilers, and the Kings also had home ice. The Oilers first took command of the series and jumped ahead three games to one above the Kings. But Los Angeles answered back with three straight wins to win the series against Edmonton.

In the next three playoff meetings between the two teams, the Gretzky-led Kings would be eliminated by his former teammates in four, six, and six games respectively. Edmonton also won another Stanley Cup in 1990 after sweeping the Kings in the second round.

After the 1990–91 NHL season, the rivalry would die down as players from the Oilers would move to other teams. Jari Kurri and Charlie Huddy would rejoin Gretzky on the Kings and go on a playoff run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993, losing to Montrealmarker in five games. Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Adam Graves, Craig MacTavish, and others would move to the New York Rangers and go on a Stanley Cup winning run in 1994, which was the last hurrah for the great Edmonton team of the 1980s.

Canucks-Flames rivalry

The rivalry between the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames of the Northwest Division has its roots in the stark geographic, political, and economic differences between Vancouvermarker and Calgarymarker, the two largest cities in Western Canada. The two cities are separated by the barrier of the Rocky Mountains, with Vancouver surrounded by the Pacific Oceanmarker, the peaks of the Coast Mountainsmarker, and forests and Calgary sitting on an expanse of flat prairie. The Rockies serve as not only a geographical barrier but a political one as well: Vancouver is a haven for the political left in Canada, strongly supportive of both the Liberal and New Democratic political parties, while Calgary has been a bastion of right-wing politics since the province of Alberta's creation and is a stronghold for the Conservative Party.

Prior to the turn of the millennium, the Canucks and Flames faced each other during the first round of postseason play in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1989 and 1994, with Calgary holding a 3-2 margin. The latter two series were decided in seven games by overtime goals (Joel Otto for Calgary and Pavel Bure for Vancouver) and coincidentally both managed to reach the Stanley Cup Finals during those seasons (with Calgary winning the cup in 1989).

In the early and mid nineties, the rivalry was considered among the most intense in the NHL, with the two teams often battling for top spot in the Smythe and later Pacific Division. However, it started to fade soon afterward as both teams started to sink in the standings in the late 1990s.

It was during the 2003-04 season when the rivalry re-ignited, with the Canucks and Flames constantly battling for top spot in the Northwest Division along with the Colorado Avalanche. These two teams met again during the first round of the postseason, and, just like in 1989 and 1994, the series-winning goal was scored in overtime in game seven by Calgary's Martin Gelinas (who was a member of the 1994 Canucks team that reached the Stanley Cup Finals). The Flames advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, however, unlike 1989, they were defeated in the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games.

The subsequent trade by Vancouver for elite netminder Roberto Luongo in June 2006 gave the Canucks a capable opponent to Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff, who has already established himself as one of the top goalies in the NHL. Players from both teams bring out their best when they play against each other, resulting in games of high entertainment value. In addition to the duel between Luongo and Kiprusoff, matchups between Vancouver defenceman Willie Mitchell and Flames captain Jarome Iginla are also noteworthy.

Year Where they met in playoffs Result of series Result of playoffs
1982 Smythe Division Semifinals Van 3, Cal 0 Vancouver swept by the New York Islanders in Cup Finals
1983 Smythe Division Semifinals Cal 3, Van 1 Calgary beaten by the Edmonton Oilers in the Smythe Final in five games.
1984 Smythe Division Semifinals Cal 3, Van 1 Calgary beaten by the Edmonton Oilers in the Smythe Final in seven games.
1989 Smythe Division Semifinals Cal 4, Van 3 Calgary wins Cup
1994 Western Conference Quarterfinals Van 4, Cal 3 Vancouver loses to New York Rangers in Cup Finals, which like the series against Calgary, went the full seven games
2004 Western Conference Quarterfinals Cal 4, Van 3 Calgary loses to Tampa Bay in Cup Finals, which like the series against Vancouver, went the full seven games

See also


  1. YouTube - Red Wings and Avalanche Rivalry Summary
  2. ESPN - Amber's 10 Degrees: NHL's dirtiest plays - NHL
  3. The Denver Post - New book explores Avs-Wings rivalry
  4. ESPN - Rivalry fueled by many motives - NHL
  5. YouTube - Red Wings vs Avalanche
  6. ABC Sports - Detroit and Colorado's greatest hits
  7. YouTube - Osgood vs. Roy
  8. YouTube - Wings vs. Avs 2002 Mini Fight

External links

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