At some point during my maniacal laughter following the St. Louis Blues destroying the Detroit Red Wings last night 10-3, I got to thinking about something.
I am supposed to be a journalist (or at least an amateur, anyway). Constantly I am taught and reminded in school to be fair, to not be blinded by any sort of loyalty in discerning the facts of any given situation and, probably most importantly, to not be a douche bag (okay, so I made that last one up). This usually isn't a problem for me, and although this is a blog geared toward the Nashville Predators and so there is going to be an obvious bias going in, I try to stick to the facts and make it fairly obvious when I am joking or just flat-out being a homer. We all have our favorite team or teams, and then those teams that we really do not like at all. For most of the teams in the NHL, being fair and seeing things for what they are is never an issue for me.
Well, except with one team.
I absolutely hate the Detroit Red Wings with every fiber in my being. There is no one simple statement that can be said to summarize all of the malice I hold for them. I hate many of their fans (they also have a lot of really great fans who aren't pompous d-bags, but that goes for every team of course), I hate their history and legacy, I hate that they’re always so damn good, I hate their players, I hate their stupid uniforms…I just hate everything about them. And I LOVED seeing the Wings get demolished by the St. Louis Blues…beautiful.
Let me go ahead and also say that I have (well secretly anyway) a tremendous amount of respect for the Red Wings and everything they have accomplished throughout their history. They have been one of the best franchises in all of sports, and they do command the respect of hockey enthusiasts everywhere. With that said: I hate you, Detroit.
Needless to say, I get pumped every time we play the Red Wings. I want to see them lose, and I was the Predators to be the ones issuing the beat-down, so I can’t wait until Saturday’s game. Obviously, I am overlooking Colorado, who we play tonight, but that doesn't matter, because I’m a fan, not a player. So I get to do that, and if the players do that, I get to bust their balls and call them idiots for it. And, really, it’s the Avalanche…who gives a shit about them anyway (just kidding! …well kind of)?
I hesitate to call the Wings a rival, because the Predators are far too young to have any “real” rivals, especially in a league that has such a rich history of intense rivalries. But I would love if our hometown team could have a few years where perhaps they don’t get knocked out of the playoffs in the first round, and perhaps plant the seeds for a long term rivalry for the future (and, God help me, if the Predators ever ended Detroit’s season…words cannot express the extent of partying that would commence…and that shows the level of respect I secretly have for that organization).
Therefore, it would seem that even hinting at the Predators having a rivalry (with anyone, really) is a bit ridiculous, as other rivalries in the NHL have been around for nearly one hundred years, such as the Blackhawks-Red Wings rivalry, which actually has its own Wikipedia entry (for the record, there are several others that do). I don’t think I need to say that the only mention of Nashville is when explaining that the central division actually has other teams.
So maybe we shouldn't say the word “rival” when talking about the Wings, at least if we do we should use proper context (that is, we are “division rivals,” purely because we face each other more than we face most other teams and have a natural distaste for one another…but certainly not on the level of some other teams in the league). It can’t be a real rivalry until both teams have a damn good reason to hate one another.
Now, it is important to note that nearly all of the historically “good” teams in every sport get this sort of reaction out of common fans, and, in particular, fans of small-market teams that receive marginal success in direct comparison. Everyone hates the Yankees and the Lakers, because it seems like they’re always good. And even when they’re bad, it doesn't last very long and they’re usually not that bad. Detroit isn't exactly a “large” market when compared to some of the other markets, but their success is enough to drive many casual and hardcore hockey fans alike to have a strong distaste for them.
A lot of fans (and sometimes even players) of these historically good teams will always counter that people who “hate on” these teams are just jealous, and are just “playa haters.” You know what? Sometimes, that’s actually true—to a certain extent. I DO wish my team had a rich history of success, obviously anyone would. But what I hate more than any amount of success that Detroit receives is the sort of arrogance that comes along with it, and I admit that if it were my teams I would do the same damn thing. I would brag, and talk smack like there was no fricking tomorrow. That’s a big part of what makes sports, and hockey in particular, so much fun.
Still…that doesn’t stop me from hating those damn Red Wings.
One of the things that really gets under my skin about the Red Wings is that no matter how many times our Predators take them down in the regular season, or how good our teams get either this season or at any point in the future, they (their fans and probably players/organization) will not recognize us as legitimate “rival” until one of two things happen: either we have to take them down in the playoffs in a series ourselves, or we have to win the Stanley Cup. And it seems like those two things are always a long-shot in any circumstance.
So, while I (and many other Predator fans) hate the Red Wings with a vigor that is only surpassed by Cleveland’s hate for “the chosen one,” Detroit doesn't even think about my team. We’re not even a blip on the radar. Oh, you've already won the season series? That’s nice, Nashville, really it is. Let’s see what you can do in the playoffs.
OK Detroit, let’s see. Come on Smashville, make this a real rivalry.