Sharks & Golden Knights: The NHL’s Newest Rivalry

The hatred between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights is shaping up to be one of the most brutally intense rivalries within recent hockey history. Quite simply put, these two division rivals cannot stand one another.

Now when you look at other rivalries that currently exist throughout the league, matchups like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins or the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals immediately jump to the forefront.

Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

These teams have both shared multiple seasons of meetings in the playoffs, suffered injuries at the hands of one another and, like the Sharks/Golden Knights rivalry, are all worthy candidates of their own articles.

Considering that the Golden Knights franchise only took to the ice in the 2017-18 season, some might argue that it is too early to consider the Sharks & Knights feud a legitimate rivalry, but there is no question that the trash-talking and heavy-hitting between these two teams will likely carry over for seasons to come. Here’s why.

Back-to-Back Playoff Meetings

The Sharks and Golden Knights have now met in the playoffs two times. Both of these series were unique in their own right and worthy of discussion.

In the 2017-18 season, the Golden Knights were inaugurated into the NHL as the league’s 31st team and quickly made a name for themselves as a top tier contender around the league.

As with any new franchise, expectations were low entering the season. However, the Golden Knights came roaring straight out of the gate and quickly put those expectations to rest with a 3-0 start to the season – an NHL first from an expansion team.

The team continued to defy expectations and went on to make the playoffs where they would miraculously sweep their first-round opponents the Los Angeles Kings before meeting up with the Sharks in the second round – A team that had also swept their Round 1 opponents. While the Sharks managed to take two games from the Golden Knights, there was never any real doubt they would lose the series, and the Golden Knights easily disposed of their new rival in six games. It was a hard-hitting, true display of dominance from the new franchise.

Vegas Golden Knights Cody Eakin
Vegas Golden Knights’ Cody Eakin celebrates (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Fast forward to the following 2018-19 season and the Golden Knights would once again meet the Sharks; however, this time they met in the first round with revenge lingering on the minds of the Sharks.

This series I believe was much closer and in my opinion, more enjoyable. The Sharks and Golden Knights battled vigorously back and forth, forcing a Game 7 to be played.

Now while there may be heavy debate on the penalty from the hit on Joe Pavelski that ultimately decided the game, one cannot deny the incredible four-goal run from the Sharks to mount a comeback from a 3-0 deficit. It was truly something magical in the game of hockey to bare witness to, and, certainly, something that contributes heavily to the rivalry these two teams have developed.

The Kane/Reaves Feud

Remember when I said that these two teams don’t really like each other? While that statement is totally true, there are two particular players who I believe have widely contributed to its intensity – the Golden Knights’ Ryan Reaves and the Sharks’ Evander Kane.

Whether they are fighting on the ice, or simply exchanging some chirps to one another, the players have created a pretty publicized feud that has added some flair and fire into the existing rivalry – You can view a war of words they exchanged in this hilarious Twitter video.

Rivalries like this add some real spice and intrigue into the game and can create fandom pandemonium around the league. This is great for ticket sales and the boost of hockey in general. We all have a love for the game and can get pretty defensive when it comes to our favorite hockey teams. When you can amplify that love with rivalries like the Golden Knights and Sharks have, then I for one hope they prosper and live on in the great name of hockey.