The Freeway Face-off. What makes a Rivalry?

(Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)
(Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)

The Freeway Face-off

When two teams are in such close proximity to each other, 45 minutes depending on traffic, one would think that because these two teams duke it out for 60 minutes in a highly contested game, it automatically makes them rivals in the, “Freeway Face-off.” The Freeway Face-Off is a series of hockey games played between the National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. The series takes its name from the massive freeway system in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, the home of both teams. However, it’s history that makes a rivalry, two teams that have battled for years with bench clearing brawls, dirty hits, ending a team’s season in a gruelling play-off series, and so on. With that being said, the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings simply don’t have it. Furthermore, the Ducks and Kings have never met in the post season which is where true rivalries begin, where players, coaches, and most importantly fans acquire a true hatred for one another. The Los Angeles Kings have been in the NHL for almost half a century. The Forum, where the Kings built some great memories, is still something fans can hang their hat on and cherish. The Kings are also the reason why California was put on the map in the first place when they brought the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, to the West Coast. The Anaheim Ducks have been in existence for 20 years and were put on the map with the 1992 film, “The Mighty Ducks.” This rivalry has become more than anything about bragging rights for the simple fact that these two teams have no blood-stained history.

Sidney Crosby Claude Giroux fighting
If Crosby hadn’t stepped up in Game 3, he’d be getting criticized for letting the series slip away and doing nothing about it (Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE)

Respected but Hated

To find a true hockey rivalry in the NHL, look no further than the rivalry between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers. Both of these teams have built true hatred for one another over the years and in my opinion, it’s the best rivalry in the NHL the last 5 years. The main reason why this rivalry has been so intense is the post-season. The Flyers and Pens have played in 6 post season series in their history compiling 35 games. In their history, the Flyers lead the playoff series 4-2. Most recently, The teams met again in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, their 3rd meeting in 5 seasons. The Flyers won the series in six games, shocking the hockey world, as the Penguins were heavily favored to win the East and the Stanley Cup. The teams combined for an NHL-record 45 goals in the first four games as well as combining for 309 penalty minutes throughout the fight-filled six-game series. During the series, Crosby was quoted as saying, “I don’t like any guy on their team.” The Freeway Face-off has all the potential of becoming a true rivalry. Both of these teams have the fan base, both teams have star studded players in Kopitar, Doughty, Getzlaf, Perry, Quick, and both teams have been very successful in the last decade. However, for this rivalry to take the next step, history must be made first.