Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Random Pacific Questions: Which Team Do You Hate Most?

It's kind of weird being a Kings' fan these days because we don't really have a rival right now. I guess the Kings' biggest rival is either AEG or one another. Still, that doesn't mean I don't hate other teams in the Pacific: there's the Ducks and Corey Perry, the Stars and their triple axis of tools (Morrow, Ott, Avery), and the Coyotes and Olli Jokinen's baby head. But I was watching the Sharks-Ducks game last night and I came away thinking 2 things: one, the Sharks looked pretty good, and two, I hate them more than I hate the Ducks. As someone who has hated the Ducks most since they came into the league, this shocked me.

I... don't like you?

I've always either ignored or privately admired the Sharks for their plucky can-do attitude, but this new incarnation sickens me. There are the obvious reasons: Rob Blake and Jeremy Roenick are dicks, Jonathan Cheechoo is a huge douche bag*, Milan Michalek is a little bitch, etc. but I think it goes deeper than that for me. I think the biggest difference can be seen in the trades for Joe Thornton and Brian Campbell. When Thornton arrived in San Jose the fans showered him with praise and gave him a safe haven from the constant haranguing he was getting from idiotic Boston fans. It was nice and everyone felt great for Joe, myself included. This last season when Brian Campbell arrived, the cheers were different; sure, they were loud and gregarious, but they seemed kind of pathetic, a desperate plea for Campbell to stay with the Sharks and lead them to a Cup. It was a weird change in attitude for the once lighthearted San Jose crowd and it made me uncomfortable. San Jose fans have gone from some of the best supportive fans in the league to... Boston fans. Fans that once cheered Joe Thornton's Hart Trophy now whined when Evgeni Nabokov rightfully lost the Vezina to Martin Brodeur. Fans that once gave Joe Thornton peace from a crazy fanbase are now doing the same thing to Patrick Marleau. It's weird.

*Cheechoo reminds me of the little guy playing pick-up basketball that talks trash while his partner (the 2-year starter at Vandy before his knee blew out 5 years ago) spends the entire game covering for the little guy's mistakes.


Raise your hand if you're a douche bag.

I think the past few post-season blunders ('05-06 standing front and center) have turned both the Sharks front office and their fans kind of insane. They so desperately want a Cup that they're sacrificing what made them fun in the first place to get it. They're not creating a system and then letting it create a Cup for them, they're throwing whatever they can at the wall in a desperate attempt to salvage Joe Thornton and Evgeni Nabokov's best years. It reminds me of the Lakers in '03 when they signed Gary Payton and Karl Malone. I'm a Lakers fan and even I hated that team. I'm not saying that's wrong or even stupid, but it makes them much less likable to an outsider's eyes. So good luck this season, San Jose, and I hope you find that championship that has eluded you; just know that you had to become less likable than the Anaheim Ducks to do it.

27 comments:

Kirsten said...

While I do hate Dallas, I still hate the Ducks more. It's that whole losing in the playoffs thing. Sorry, Sleek.

Earl Sleek said...

Sorry, Sleek.

Oh, don't worry about me. The Ducks have been hated by so many teams' fans the last couple of years it just rolls off my back.

Actually, though, Rudy does make a pretty good point. I'm not sure the Ducks are the most despicable team in the division any more, and we'll see -- I might miss that distinction.

Anyways, I do hate me some Stars, but in a bit of irony, I think I hated them more before last spring's 6-game series. Hard to tell you exactly why that is, other than I'm probably just getting soft.

Ksy92003 said...

As a Kings fan, I hate the Ducks more because it seems like every time they play each other, the Kings play great, competitive hockey for most of the game, yet the Ducks always manage to win somehow. At least the Kings went 4-4-0 against the Sharks last year.

Not to mention that the Kings have made the Cup Finals once (and lost) in 40+ years. The Sharks haven't been to the Finals in ~15 years, while the Ducks have made it twice and won it once in ~15 years.

Kirsten said...

I hated the Stars more before they got Matt Niskanen.

I just want to win more than one game vs. the Ducks in the playoffs. Preferably four, but more than one would be nice. I will also continue to hate them due to the presence of FCP/Getzlaf.

I've never been a big Sharks fan, but I don't HATE them. No real reason to.

Brad said...

It was definitely one of those games, much like last years cup finals, where I definitely wanted both teams to lose.

Ian said...

Rudy, wait till you get a load of Avery being on the other side. If Cheechoo is a douche bag, Avery is a douche warehouse.

As for being likable, meh. Miss Congeniality never gets the crown. Just ask the Ducks. In fact, name a recent Cup champ (not your own team, mind) that wasn't hateful. I can't.

Kelpfreak said...

The Cow Palace years and a youth despising the Dodgers instilled a hefty hatred of the Kings from the beginning...but the epic collapses after 2001-2002 made the Kings a little more difficult to hate.

Thank god Disney's Ducks stepped in the fill that void. After picking up Pronger (What? Are we already over hating Pronger?) and the Cup, it just keeps getting easier. Simple rampant jealousy? I won't deny that; but isn't that what true hate is all about?

RudyKelly said...

The Carolina Hurricanes weren't very hateable. Cam Ward, Eric Staal, Rod Brind'amour, the whole anti-Canada bias thing I have... I liked them.

And Ian, I'm sure I hate Sean Avery more than all of you combined, so I don't need to see him play on another team to hate him.

Anonymous said...

...whined when Evgeni Nabokov rightfully lost the Vezina to Martin Brodeur.

Kind of like LA fans whining about Kopitar not getting recognized for the Calder? C'mon Rudy, you're better than that.

I usually enjoy your stuff, but this one missed the target.

RudyKelly said...

Yeah, but the key word there is "rightfully." Kopitar deserved to get nominated for the Calder; Nabokov didn't deserve to win the Vezina.

Earl Sleek said...

Kind of like LA fans whining about Kopitar not getting recognized for the Calder?

I'll stress that this is my opinion only, but I think there's another difference here besides the qualifier "rightfully".

My perspective is that based on the regular season results of the past three years, Kings fans have earned a lot more leeway when it comes to whining than Sharks fans have. A Sharks fan, at least, can say "Hey, we didn't get the Vezina, but at least there was that Pacific Division champion thing."

As for the Kings fan, I'd expect it to go more like, "Hey, we didn't get a Calder nomination. I might as well just shoot myself."

Rudy's point is more valid, though. Kopitar deserved to be nominated more than Nabokov deserved to win.

CJ said...

I guess the Kings' biggest rival is either AEG or one another

Who paid for that 30 minute hagiography of Tim Leiwecke & Wife on PBS last night? Not my pledge money, I hope. They even had Luc kissing his butt.

Tom said...

My 2 cents as a Bruins (and, incidentally, Atlanta Braves) fan:

Losing in the playoff sucks.

But it REALLY sucks, on a far different level, when your team has the talent for a deep run. There's something almost personal about it from the fan's point of view. As an unathletic, slightly nerdy blogger-type wearing the jersey of a guy who retired 10 years ago, you'd step in front of a 747 on the landing strip if it gave your team a better chance at the Cup... but the 6'3 gazelles with 0% body fat and a slapshot forged in Hades seem to be passively accepting another season down the tubes. And you hear that "wait till next year" bullshit that you know is just a placebo to keep you from burning down the other team's arena.

Basically, what you REALLY know is that you care 10 times more about the game than the guys who have the power to alter the history of the team.

You didn't hear Bruins fans booing last season when they fell to the Habs in the first round of the playoffs... why? Because the Bs fought and scrapped and clawed their way through that series, and finally lost because they were simply overwhelmed by injuries and a lack of scoring talent.

But when you're watching a guy like Thornton coast through another lost, making pretty plays but never really showing you that he wants to win, it's like a slap in the face. That's what chased him out of Boston and that might well be what's happening in San Jose. Some of those fans are true diehards, having been with the franchise since Day 1 and growing up along with it. They've paid their dues, suffered through horrible seasons and are now at last in a position to get a piece of the glory that's already been enjoyed in Anaheim and Tampa this decade.

But the bottom line is that the Sharks just don't have the character to win a Cup. Guys like Thornton, Roenick, Blake, Cheechoo, Marleau, Nabokov... when was the last time any of them gutted out a playoff victory against a tougher team? So for those fans, it's a slap in the face. It's enough to, yes, drive you crazy and turn you against your own team.

Hard to describe this phenomenon to someone who hasn't been through it, but believe me when I say that it's MUCH better to be a perennial loser, and have a single Cinderella season, than to spend a decade winning only your division.

Lizzy said...

As a diehard Sharks fan from way back when they took Detroit to 7, beat them, then lost to the then Western Conference Toronto Maple Leafs in... 7 games, I can say that this current squad is villified not because of desperation, but because this incarnation has done no better than Constantine's squad of the 93-94 playoffs. Desperate? No. Annoyed at a culture of underperforming and under acheiving.

So as a Sharks fan who do I hate? The Ducks. Followed closely by the Stars. Pheonix hasn't been good enough to warrant anything but apathy. And with respect to the Kings... Pity. Talk about desperate... Who hired Dean-o anyway and why?

mcm said...

The ducks are like frumpy girls with bad attitudes. The sharks are like the girl at work who was cool until she starts hanging out with the biggest douche in the office. The stars are like the girl coming from the midwest to LA to make it big, shes got potential but will use you in any way to make it big

Mr. Plank said...

Some solid points Rudy. I'm just as guilty as the next guy for the love affair with Campbell- looking back on it, you're right. It was "pathetic".

But I tend to disagree with the point about the "once lighthearted San Jose crowd." With four seasons of high expectations and not a single Stanley Cup appearance, I would be disgusted if we were content with the way things were going.

I'm not going to compare forty years of futility with fifteen seasons of a fairly successful product, but the fact is that Doug Wilson felt the pressure from the fanbase and responded. This is the only year (correct me if I'm wrong, I don't have the data in front of me) that management has spent to the cap. Big ups to Doug Wilson for going all in this year. I'm fine with people hating the Sharks, as long as they give Wilson and the fans respect for expecting the most out of the team. It's something I would imagine every fan would like to see out of their franchise.

Jesse said...

Good point plank. Maybe being compared to an east coast fan base isn't so bad. CA towns get criticized for not being passionate about their teams, so maybe we deserve some credit for demanding more.

On Campbell: F'em - he's gonna be the Barry Zito of DMen. He doesn't have the personality to lead that team or live up to that contract.

Go Sharks!

Luke said...

Kelly,

You make a great point, "Rob Blake and Jeremy Roenick are dicks, Jonathan Cheechoo is a huge douche bag*, Milan Michalek is a little bitch, etc." Yes they are a team full of douches but then again they did make some key changes over the last couple of months. Overall, the article is a good example of how fans opinions of teams can change. I am a die hard ducks fan, born and raised. I am know to talk a lot of crap on other teams but when it comes down to it.... Kings Suck.

This comment has nothing to do with anything.

Sleek You rule. Your mine in Nobody watches the NHL.

Go Ducks.

Ian said...

Tom, no disrespect here, but Thornton was run out of town because he wasn't Cam Neely or Jason Varitek or Bobby Orr. He didn't throw tables and break overhead lights when he lost. Boston fans interpret that as a lack of heart, I guess. [Counterpoint: Nik Lidstrom and Datsyuk and Zetterberg aren't scrappy, trash the locker room, leave it all on the ice types; they just are better than the other guys.]

It is funny how the perception of Sharks fans have changed. At first, we were rubes who loved our (not very good) team unconditionally. Then I guess we got spoiled. Now we're either doomed naifs or irrational and desperate obsessives. Whatever. I guess every team is judged by their worst fans, but honestly I probably have more in common with Rudy and James and Sleek (and Mike & PJ) than the morons that boo Marleau.

RudyKelly said...

Give the Sharks a little credit, they're not dumb enough to boo their franchise player.

Earl Sleek said...

Sleek You rule. Your mine in Nobody watches the NHL.

The first sentence made me so happy that I'll just pretend that I have some idea of what the second sentence is trying to say.

I guess every team is judged by their worst fans, but honestly I probably have more in common with Rudy and James and Sleek (and Mike & PJ) than the morons that boo Marleau.

Hey, I'm right there with you, Ian. There's a lot of aspects to being a hockey fan in California -- we're unlike hockey fans from other hockey-first regions, and we're unlike fans of mainstream sports within California. And even on another level, we're probably unlike other fans who even root for our same team.

It's one thing I really love about this blog we've pulled together; we may don different jerseys and root for different outcomes, but it seems to me that in a lot of ways our similarities outweigh those differences.

At least during the early regular season :)

VeryProudofYa said...

Just agreeing absolutely with your remarks about cheechoo.

Every time he scores a tap in goal that came about more because of someone else's talent than his own, then goes on to leap around the rink like he just found that he was not the father, well, it brings the taste of bile to my mouth.

Tom said...

Tom, no disrespect here, but Thornton was run out of town because he wasn't Cam Neely or Jason Varitek or Bobby Orr. He didn't throw tables and break overhead lights when he lost. Boston fans interpret that as a lack of heart, I guess. [Counterpoint: Nik Lidstrom and Datsyuk and Zetterberg aren't scrappy, trash the locker room, leave it all on the ice types; they just are better than the other guys.]

There's some truth to that, no doubt -- Boston fans are not known for putting a fine point on their feelings about a player. You are either a hero or a bum when you play for the Bruins.

But it's not just that Thornton didn't have a Bobby Knight streak when he lost. It was that he didn't seem to have any emotional reaction whatsoever. You can look into Nicklas Lidstrom's eyes and see how he's calculating to break you down -- Zetterberg looks like a man possessed when he drives to the net. Look at Joe Thornton's eyes at a critical moment in the game, and he could just as well be trying to remember if he might have locked his keys in the car.

At the end of the day, a guy like Thornton simply won't win a Cup -- at least not as a centerpiece player. Maybe as a Jagr to someone else's Mario, but not so long as the weight falls on his shoulders, as it did in Boston and now does in San Jose, to be the man to carry the team through the playoff gauntlet.

Captains on the last 10 Cup-winning teams: Lidstrom, Niedermayer, Brind'Amour, Andreychuk, Stevens, Yzerman, Sakic, Stevens, Hatcher, Yzerman. Thornton just doesn't fit on that list. I wish the guy the best, but he'll drive you crazy after a few seasons.

Ted said...

"San Jose fans have gone from some of the best supportive fans in the league to... Boston fans. Fans that once cheered Joe Thornton's Hart Trophy now whined when Evgeni Nabokov rightfully lost the Vezina to Martin Brodeur. Fans that once gave Joe Thornton peace from a crazy fanbase are now doing the same thing to Patrick Marleau. It's weird."

As an SJ fan that really hurts. What's the phrase I'm reaching for, "like getting ravaged by a dead sheep".

Marleau was lucky to be here last year. There were any number of cities where he would have taken some real abuse.

For my money I still gotta go with the Stars.

Anonymous said...

I find it very ironic how blogs like this pop out when the Sharks are doing very well and other California teams are playing like shit.

And as for Sharks fans being desperate, I don't think desperate is necessarily the word. The word you may be looking for is tired. Tired of seeing a talented team fall short in the playoffs due to lack coaching skills and just the drive to win. Of course, if we have a team like this, changes must be made. ANY team would make changes to a team like this, does that mean that they're all desperate as well?

Earl Sleek said...

I find it very ironic how blogs like this pop out when the Sharks are doing very well and other California teams are playing like shit.

To be fair to Rudy the author, he wrote this after the first Sharks-Ducks game, before the Kings had even hit the ice.

But I find it ironic that Sharks boards start linking to posts like this out once their team is doing well and the other California teams are playing like shit. :)

Anonymous said...

"But I find it ironic that Sharks boards start linking to posts like this out once their team is doing well and the other California teams are playing like shit. :)"

Problem with your statement is that we would link posts like this on our boards when the Sharks played like shit and other California teams played good. :]