Rivalries are a part of sports and have been for many years. In hockey, those could start via close proximity to the other team, a dirty hit, or close competition in the standings.
For most of the ’90s, the most violent rivalry took place between the Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche due to Avalanche forward Claude Lemieux driving Detroit forward Kris Draper face-first into the boards. The intensity between the two teams was kicked up a notch each time they met on the ice.
Draper suffered a broken jaw, shattered cheekbones, and orbital bone from the hit, and the Red Wings took notice. From then on, the wars consisted of Brendan Shanahan. Adam Foote, Patrick Roy, Mike Vernon, Chris Osgood, Claude Lemieux, and Darren McCarty.
These battles raged on for years before they finally came to an end due to the Red Wings moving to the Eastern Conference after the 2012-13 season. They have battled since but the intensity from the old battles is no longer there.
The Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators are becoming good rivals.
Fast forward to last season when the Detroit Red Wings were in a playoff spot until the last couple of months of the season. Ottawa played spoiler and essentially knocked them out with back-to-back wins against the Detroit Red Wings. After that, the Red Wings playoff chances evaporated.
Since this happened, the rivalry between the two teams has picked up immensely, with fans getting involved in online wars on social media.
Red Wing Dylan Larkin and Senator Mathieu Joseph have a history that has propelled this team feud even faster. While Joseph was with the Tampa Bay Lightning, he flattened Larkin with a hit along the boards with what some may call an illegal hit and there was no penalty on the play.
Larkin, shaken up, got to his feet and glanced at the side of Jospeh’s face with a right hook. Larkin was suspended one game for the incident which added fuel to the fire.
Fast forward to this season. The first meeting of the regular season between the two was on Saturday in Ottawa. The Senators came out with the physical play to set the tone as they did in previous meetings but Detroit responded this time and did not back down.
A short fight between Brady Tkachuk and Michael Rasmussen got both teams energized as the bout ended in a draw. From the end of the fight, the Red Wings took control and won the game 5-2, giving Detroit their fourth straight win.
These battles between the Ottawa Senators and the Detroit Red Wings have the same intensity and physical play that the old Red Wings and Avalanche rivalry did. Each side has players that can fuel the fire by simply being on the ice.
The words between the two teams have been intense as has the play on the ice. Will this rivalry be the same as the old days when every game is chippy and physical? It is starting out that way.
This feud has the possibility of being a lengthy one as both teams are in the same division and moving up the standings at the same pace.
The battles ahead will be dog fights as they continue to battle for supremacy. This may be good because the NHL needs more rivalries like this one. This adds to the competition and fierceness that both teams already play with.