The Vancouver Canucks have had their fair share of hate-filled rivalries over the years, but currently some of those rivalries are beginning to fizzle out. Whether it is the result of a rival team struggling for a few years, or just scheduling issues, the hierarchy of Canucks rivalries has begun to change.
Many casual Vancouver fans would say that the rivalry created between the Nucks and Boston Bruins from last year's seven-game Stanley Cup Finals series puts that rivalry at the top of the list. Unfortunately, because the Bruins are in the Eastern Conference, the two teams only meet once this season, which happened a couple of weeks ago. The game was just as everyone thought it would be, the best of the season. But with only one game a year—unless they meet in the Finals again in 2012—this rivalry is not the No. 1 current rivalry for the Canucks.
Of the Canucks' current rivalries, the rankings go as this:
It may come as a surprise that the Bruins rivalry was put ahead of the likes of the Flames and Sharks, but realistically the hatred surrounding this rivalry has to have it top two. The Flames/Canucks rivalry has sputtered the past few years as Calgary has struggled to produce a strong team, but the geographical rivalry and general hate between the two cities have kept the blood boiling.
San Jose and Vancouver began a new rivalry in the Western Conference Finals in 2011, and it is very likely the two will meet again in this season's playoffs. Though the rivalry just began, you can guarantee that if realignment happens, these two teams will be rivals for many seasons to come.
Where do you think the Bruins rivalry ranks with the Canucks?
The rivalry between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks is more a rivalry between cities. Arguably the two best cities in Canada, most of the time it is just hate because one person is a Leafs fan and the other a Canucks fan. It isn't really explainable as to why there is so much hate, but it is just there, and always will be.
Finally, the Chicago Blackhawks and Canucks rivalry has to top the Canucks and Bruins rivalry. Sure the seven-game Finals with the Bruins was intense and the game a few weeks ago exceeded expectations, but the recent history has the Blackhawks and Canucks meeting 34 times in the last three seasons, including 19 playoff games. The Blackhawks eliminated the Canucks two consecutive years; Vancouver finally beat them last year on the overtime goal by Alexandre Burrows in Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs.
The Canucks' rivalry with the Bruins has everything in it to be a great rivalry. But with the teams only meeting once every few seasons, or if realignment goes through twice a year and the probability of meeting in the Finals again is not very high, it can't be the Canucks' best current rivalry.
It has the hate needed; in fact, if an outside fan had to pick either team they probably wouldn't pick either because the Canucks and Bruins are probably the most hated teams league wide. The Bruins, so long as the likes of their current team stick around, will be an excellent top rival in the East for the Canucks for seasons to come. But there is no way it tops the Blackhawks and Canucks rivalry at the moment. There is no doubt that the Bruins/Canucks rivalry ranks a solid second among Canucks current rivalries; but nothing beats a Canucks and Blackhawks game.
John Bain is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist
Follow him on Twitter: @JohnBainSports