The Art of Rivalries
Each hockey season has a memorable moment. That is why fans flock to see their favorite team play. Well…not just to play. They watch them for the hits, the fights, the scores, and the moments. What better way to embrace these moments with rivalries, this is what drives every fan to watch. It has brought more people to the game than one may know. For one, it has me buying all the NHL packages, magazines, read through websites, and watch TSN, EPSN, and NHL Live to just hear what happens. I for one know I am not the only one.
Lets do some flash backs. It’s the first of many. This one is possibly my favorite. It was exciting to watch the games between the seasons of ’96-’97 and ’97-’98. The Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche had it out for each other. It became more than a simple rivalry. It became a passion to play, hit, fight, and hurt for not only the players but for the fans. Every game was like watching a gladiator fight. The people were egging them on, pounding the glass, screaming at the top of lungs, and yelling at the T.V. set.
How did it all start? Well, one of the most hated NHL players started it with a not so clean hit. Claude Lemieux checked Kris Draper from the back against the boards. The hit totally messed up and swelled Drapers right side of his face. It looked more like a bat to the face. It did not help that Lemieux had interest in pushing Red Wings’ buttons more than any player could. In fact Lemieux liked pushing every team he played against to the edge of the line, and sometime over it. After Red Wings lost to the Avalanche Dino Ciccarelli stated about Claude Lemieux, “I can’t believe I shook this guy’s freakin’ hand after the game. That pisses me right off,” (pertaining to the hit on Draper).
That next season after the hit on Draper Red Wings wanted to repay the favor to Lemieux. Detroit’s muscle man Darren McCarty was something to fear. He really never made memorable plays except for 1997 Stanley Cup clinching goal. McCarty was more memorable for his hits and his fists. McCarty loved fighting in general. One point he was in the penalty box and Larionov joined him for the initial fight. High fives were exchanges, also was a head squeeze. Need I say that happened during an Avalanche game? McCarty hits were so damaging he left Lemieux bloody. When I look at the video I wonder what Lemieux thinks of that payback hit. Maybe thinking he shouldn’t have hit Draper.
During one of the many fights a Red Wing left Foote with a bloody face. This was normal between these two adversaries. Players would skate on the ice with intentions of fighting. For the goal scoring there was so many one can’t begin. Both teams had such great players like; Sakic, Foote, Roy, Vernon, Fedorov, Yzerman, and many more on both sides. The thing is with this rivalry was the fist throwing was more memorable over the goal scoring.
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How about when goalies fight? It’s like waiting for a spectacular moment in life to happen. When it does it is better than one can expect. Goalies have fought a few times before, but these two stick out the most to many people. The first brawl between Patrick Roy vs. Mike Vernon in ’96-’97 season, and the second Patrick Roy vs. Chris Osgood in ’97-’98 season were those moments. What started the fight between these goalies? Simply, the hate for each other is the matter of the cause.
The first brawl was a quick fun one. Vernon was helping teammate Shanahan with a little scuffle, and then Roy literally jumped in. Punches came. Vernon got a couple good swings, but had 3-4 blows to the head by Roy. Not saying Vernon couldn’t take it, because Roy was bloodied up after that fight.
The second brawl with Patrick Roy vs. Chris Osgood in ’97-’98 season was more exciting. Reason being, Osgood was standing in center ice with full equipment on staring at Roy while a linesmen was trying to hold him back. The awesome part was that the fight was literally center ice for all to see. This fight wasn’t a round two. It was a first round. It represented who was going to be the better man, and more importantly the better goalie.
The anticipation of watching Roy skate toward Osgood was like watching a boxer walking to the ring. Naturally Roy had Osgood over powered in statured and size, but this was a fight. Both were throwing punches as if it was title fight. The crowd was wild. Both lines were at it. Gloves and sticks were thrown all over the ice. It was total mayhem; you know…the good stuff.
Now this is easily the top 3 rivalry of all times. We all love seeing players taking their aggression on the ice with each other. That is part of the game. It can make some of the best rivalry games and the moments we look forward to in hockey each time we watch. Either it’s an amazing goal, the hardest hit, and toughest save, but as fans we cling to it. It’s what history is made of.
By: David Salcedo
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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