It’s inevitable that two professional hockey teams that are a 45 minute bus ride apart would play highly more competitive against their freeway foe than against per se the majority of the league, but that doesn’t make them rivals. There is a significant aspect that two teams must have to be classified as a true rivalry and that’s history, something the two don’t have with the other.
So when analysts and fans describe the games amongst these two teams as a “rivalry” it makes me roll my eyes because the whole thing is overrated. The relationship between the Ducks and Kings is certainly not an amicable one, but it’s a relation that I would compare to as siblings vying for their parent’s attention; the parents being the fans of SoCal.
It’s all about bragging rights, which is fitting in a county where social status runs skin deep.
In this situation, the Kings are the older brother that constantly torments the younger Ducks and they get away with it because they’re the golden child. I understand. Los Angeles has been a team for almost half a century. Their first home, The Forum, is still a vivid yet distant remembrance in people’s memory bank. They are also the reason why hockey started in California and why the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, once played on the west coast.
Still, after last night’s game in Anaheim I can’t get why everyone is fixated on hyping up this supposed rivalry. Last night was an eventful and entertaining game to say the least. The teams scored a combined 11 goals, a fight, several hard hits and an early goalie change. Regardless of the outcome, the two teams didn’t disappoint their fans as they showcased what hockey is all about.
You see, the Ducks have duked it out on with these two teams in the postseason. The Ducks have some fond memories against Detroit — they defeated them in ’03 and ’07 where they went on to win the Conference and then years later to win the Stanley Cup. Besides those two meetings, the Ducks have fallen victim to the Wings three times in the postseason for a total of five postseason matchups. Now that’s something notable. The only reason why I consider the Sharks a rival is because the Ducks — as the eighth seed — ousted them the year the Sharks were the President Trophy recipients. That’s kind of a big deal.
A little fun fact, the Kings and Ducks have never been in the playoffs in the same year. I can’t quite wrap my head around how that’s possible, but it goes to show you that the relationship between these two clubs hasn’t even truly surfaced. Until the hockey gods believe the time is right, it’s just a freeway face-off.