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Hate Is A Strong Word

by Todd Smith / Minnesota Wild
Sure, it's the holiday season and a time to be thankful, but that doesn't mean we have to like everybody. In fact, as a hockey fan, you are required to disdain at least a few teams. In that spirit, contributor Todd Smith gives thanks for the teams he hates.

In a remarkable sign of marital solidarity, my wife sat down on the couch with me to watch a recent Minnesota Wild game.
“Who is the Wild playing?”  Sarah asked.

“Vancouver,” I replied.

 “I love Vancouver!  It’s so beautiful there,” Sarah gushed.
“No,” I retorted.  “You hate Vancouver.”

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“Why would someone hate Vancouver?  There are mountains, oceans, and rain forests.  I want Vancouver to win. I think you should root for Vancouver,” Sarah chirped, as if a fan’s allegiance could be swayed by something as whimsical as local scenery. What my wife didn’t understand was that for diehard hockey fans, hatred of certain teams runs like a virus through your body for not just a season but a lifetime.
“Right here, right now, Vancouver is the worst place on earth,” I said.
“Ok then.  Why do you hate Vancouver… the team?” Sarah asked.

“Canucks forward Alex Burrows gives my soul swine flu,” I quipped.  “And by the way, Vancouver is just the start of my Wild hockey hate-a-thon.”

“You hate more teams than Vancouver?” Sarah asked innocently.
“Oh, yeah,” I said.  “There’s more.  Believe me.  There is more.”

I paused for a moment to digest the situation.  How could I properly explain the Minnesota Wild’s hockey rivalries to a non-believer?  Sometimes we hate a hockey team because of certain players (Ladies and Gentleman, meet Darcy Tucker).  Other times, we hate teams because of an on ice event (The Mattias Ohlund “Chopper” incident).  As a native Minnesotan, sometimes I just flat out hate a team because of where they are from (Greetings from Dallas!).  And there are times I hate a team solely because of their jersey (The mallard foot on Anaheim’s jerseys makes my eyeballs vomit).  Between periods, I broke out a dry erase board and gave Sarah a power point presentation on who the Wild hates and why:

Team:  Vancouver Canucks

Why We Hate Them:  Every NHL team has agitators.  But the Canucks seem to grow them off of some sort of Pacific Northwest regional “Jerk Tree”.  Matt Cooke, Brad May, Mattias Ohlund, Alex Burrows (drama queen), Ryan Kesler (Only he could make me cheer against Team USA in the upcoming Olympics), Todd Bertuzzi (the Darth Vader of hockey), and Willie Mitchell (nice roof-rake size stick).  How can one organization develop so many hosers? Plus, the Sedin twins are creepy and play the game like rod-hockey figures.

Team:  Anaheim Ducks

Why We Hate Them:  Second only to the Canucks in slug production, the Ducks have grown Ryan Getzlaf (sour puss), Corey Perry (he’d face wash Elmo if he had to), Chris Kunitz, George Parros (You have a mustache. We get it.), Todd Bertuzzi (Bertuzzi?  Again?  Will this guy ever just go away?), and Chris Pronger into highly unlikeable players.  Ducks coach Randy Carlyle would fight Santa.  And who can forget Brad May’s sucker punch on Kim Johnsson in the 2007 playoffs?

Team:  Calgary Flames

Why We Hate Them:  Because they own us. Between goalie Miikka Kipru-sieve, Jarome Iginla, and Dion Phaneuf, the Flames have a way of putting the Wild in their place every chance they can get. It’s mainly a jealously thing, though.  Deep down inside, we are all Iginla fans. 

Team:  Dallas Stars

Why We Hate Them:  Because there is only one “Stars” team and that is the “North Stars”. Norm Green still sucks. 

Team:  New York Rangers

Why We Hate Them:  They are the Yankees of hockey, constantly trying to buy a championship.  They have Gaborik. ‘Nuff said.  Plus, Sean Avery is a public health hazard.

The game came back on and right in the middle of my Wild hockey rivalry synopsis, Minnesota scored on the Canucks. I bolted off the couch, shook my fists, and pumped my crotch. Then I gave the Vancouver goalie on my TV the finger.

“In! Your! FACE!”  I yelled.
Sarah shook her head in exasperation and said, “You men are just odd.  It’s only a game.”

“No.  That’s where you are wrong,” I said.  “It’s not just a game.  It’s hockey.”
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