Here’s what you need to know this week about the sports you love.
I love a hockey rivalry. I’d blame it on being the youngest of 10 children, but judging from what I see on social media, you didn’t have to grow up in Old Mother Hubbard’s house to embrace heartfelt hatred for a competitor.
I was reared on the Battle of Quebec. The playoff meetings. The Stastny brothers. The Good Friday Massacre. If the Habs versus the Nordiques couldn’t get your blood pumping, you probably needed a date with the undertaker.
A few summers ago, I spent a night at the Stastny Hotel and Golf Club in Saint-Nicolas. It crossed my mind that it might be connected to the brothers, but I didn’t really give it much thought. Then there I was, at the registration desk, in front of Marian Stastny.
For a minute, I was starstruck. I was 10 years old again. One-third of one of the iconic lines of my childhood was in front of me.
Then I noticed it. A picture of the brothers. With Guy Lafleur, my favourite Habs player… and he was not in a Habs jersey. I went from starstruck to teeth-grinding in about two seconds flat.
That’s what a rivalry will do to you.
The 2020-21 NHL season will be memorable – the shortened season, the taxi squad, the constant testing. It will also be remembered for new divisions and a baseball-style schedule, and the rivalries that were revived.
Habs – Leafs
There was never any love lost between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. But this year both teams are good, and they’re also playoff bound. They’ll likely meet in the playoffs, but first they’ll meet for nine regular season games. As Tyler Toffoli noted, every game has a playoff atmosphere.
Whether they’re playing each other or not, Habs and Leafs fans will be exchanging digs.
Who was worse against the Sens? Who had what pajamas as kids? Which free agents want to play where?
If you live in certain parts of the country, those jabs can happen around the dinner table.
The Battle of Alberta
The Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames will fight for a playoff spot in the North. Both teams ice a skilled group, but they also each have pests.
Zack Kassian and Matthew Tkachuk could find trouble at a church choir practice, so there’s no surprise there has been some memorable strife between the two. Multiple encounters is just what this bromance needed.
The Battle of Pennsylvania
This rivalry dates back to 1967 when the NHL expanded beyond six teams and added the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. It peaked in the 90s when Eric Lindros and Mario Lemieux faced off.
The rivalry has been renewed this season due to a little front-office drama. Ron Hextall, the Flyers goaltender during the height of the rivalry, has recently been named the General Manager of the Penguins.
With the calendar winding down to the March 25th trade deadline, the NBA rumour mill is heating up. Last week, a rumour circulated that the Raptors were working on a trade that would bring in Andre Drummond from the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Raptors are currently sitting in 7th place in the Eastern conference, which would qualify them for the NBA play-in process between the 7th to 10th place teams in each conference. Not exactly a sure bet, but can management ignore the holes on this team and hope for the best? Stay tuned.
Lori Bennett is a social worker, policy professional, recreation softball player and coach, and new ukulele-ist. A Newfoundlander living in Toronto, Lori loves a good hockey chat or even a debate, just as long as it remains respectful. She posts her gametime thoughts on twitter, particularly for hockey and the Montreal Canadiens, as @lori10habs.