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NHL's 8 Most Hate-Filled, Heated Rivalries Based on Geography

Ben LippelContributor IIIJanuary 11, 2017

NHL's 8 Most Hate-Filled, Heated Rivalries Based on Geography

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    "Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy."  - General George Patton, Speech to the Third Army

    Patton's passionate words delivered on the June 5, 1944 (the eve of D-Day) were classic fire and brimstone. They served a powerful purpose, as they galvanized the troops before they embarked on one of the most pivotal operations of World War II.

    The same spirit in which Patton addressed the troops nearly 70 years ago can also be harnessed by the teams who've participated in the most hated rivalries in the NHL

    Not only do these franchises have a genuine disdain for each other—the cities in which they operate are in many instances just a plane or bus ride away. Close enough to turn up the thermostat to the max. And close enough for the fans to feel the heat.

    So what are the eight most hate-filled and heated rivalries in the NHL based on geography? Read on to find out. Those are your marching orders.

    Please Note: Excerpts from General Patton's speech will play pivotal roles in each of the following slides.

The Hatfields & the McCoys, New York Style

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    "Don't ever let up."

    There's never a chance of that happening when the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders face off against each other.

    Only 30 miles separate these two teams. And they've had 40 years to build up the animosity that makes this one of the best rivalries in all of pro sports.

    Over the years, the games between these two teams have featured everything from pre-season brawls to post-season triumphs and tribulations. And no matter where they happen to be in the standings, each game is played like it's Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.  

    However, the Islanders have fallen on hard times in recent years and there has been talk that they may leave Long Island for greener (as in dollars) pastures. 

    Read about the notable games in this rivalry, which has held hockey fans in the New York metropolitan area spellbound since Richard Nixon was president.

    More detail on hockey's version of the Hatfields and the McCoys can be found here

    The Rangers lead the all-time regular-season record: 116-99-19-6


Brining It Big Time, North of the Border

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    "Don't ever think that your job is unimportant. Every man has a job to do and he must do it. Every man is a vital link in the great chain."

    Such is the case in the continuing saga between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. This is the oldest rivalry in NHL history, with these two cities separated by only 313 miles. 

    Some of the greatest players in the history of the game have taken part in this grudge match that dates back to 1917. Plus, they've gone after it 15 times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including an incredible five times in the Finals. Get more details here

    Here's more about this classic north-of-the-border rivalry.

    Montreal leads the all-time regular season series: 336-280-88 


It's Always Tough Going Up and Down the Turnpike

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    "All of the real heroes are not storybook combat fighters."

    There's been a ton of trench warfare between the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers, who've been waging their bitter battles since 1982.

    Only 85 miles separates these two franchises. And that stretch of road comes with its bad blood.

    Devils fans live mostly in the northern part of the state, while the southern part is dominated by Flyers fans due to South Jersey's close proximity to Philadelphia.

    Since the conferences were realigned and renamed prior to the 1993–94 season, the two teams have won the most division titles (the Devils 9, the Flyers 6). Plus, they played each other in last season's Stanley Cup playoffs, as the Devils knocked out Flyers in five games. Consider it fire poured on top of gasoline.

    Check out the tribute video included in this slide. It will give you a great idea of what this rivalry is all about.

    New Jersey leads the all-time regular season series: 90-76-15


The Battle of Alberta Rages on

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    "Each man must not think only of himself, but also of his buddy fighting beside him."

    This holds true in the rivalry between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.

    The two teams are based in cities only 185 miles apart. But the animosity they feel for each other is up close and personal.

    Think of some of the key players that have been part of these epic struggles:

    Wayne GretzkyMark Messier, Paul CoffeyGlenn Anderson and Jarri Kurri for the Oilers.

    Lanny McDonald, Joel Otto, Al MacInnis, Jim Peplinski and Joe Nieuwendyk for the Flames.

    Impressive lists, indeed. 

    Here's a blog that's dedicated to this hotly-contested Canadian rivalry, one in which the loyal fans of these two franchises hope to see them face off once again for some high-stakes hockey.

    Take a deeper dive into the series here

    Calgary leads the all-time regular season series: 94-89-18

Playing for Pride and Power in Pennsylvania

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    "My men don't surrender."

    General Patton bragged about the American troops in his spellbinding speech. And with good reason.

    And he would have also said the same thing about games between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers.

    Only 305 miles separate these cities. And the teams are separated by a hate which has boiled over for 45 years, as both were part of the league's first major expansion in 1967. Want to add more venom? The Flyers eliminated the Pens in the last spring's playoffs. 

    Here's a NY Times article, equating this rivalry to Yankees-Red Sox on ice.

    Learn more about the history between these two Pennsylvania powerhouses here

    Philadelphia leads the all-time regular season series:141-89-30

Wings and Leafs Wage Their Own War

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    "Without team effort, without them, the fight would have been lost. All of the links in the chain pulled together and the chain became unbreakable."

    There have been many times those words could have been spoken in the long-standing stare down between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings.

    Separated by only 245 miles, these two Original Six teams have one of the most famous rivalries in sports, as the rivalry dates to the 1920s. As of 1997, they've had 23 playoff meetings, five in the Stanley Cup Finals.

    This rivalry is so heated, that when the Rangers reached the finals against Detroit in 1950, but couldn't play at Madison Square Garden because the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus was in town, they arranged to play home games in Toronto. 

    The 2013 NHL Winter Classic will be played between the Red Wings and the Leafs at Michigan Stadium on January 1, 2013 and will feature two alumni games.

    Get more details on this ancient rivalry here.

    Toronto leads the all-time regular season series: 276-275-93

    One of the league's greatest rivalries doesn't even exist anymore. The next slide will fill you in.

It Was a Quest for Supremacy in Quebec

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    "You are ready for what's to come."

    And everyone on both teams was more than ready, when the Montreal Canadiens and Quebec Nordiques went at it.

    Only 155 miles separated these two provincial squads, that were both owned by brewing companies. The rivalry lasted from 1979–1995. The teams played against each other five times in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the Canadiens won three of the series. One meeting, in 1984, resulted in the Good Friday Brawl, a game in which multiple fights took place.

    Montreal won the all-time regular season series: 62-39-12

    Here's a look back at The Battle of Quebec.

    Click on the next slide for a rivalry that's not close in proximity. But I included it because it was always played close to the edge. 

They Annihilated Each Other in the 1990's

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    "Every department, every unit, is important in the vast scheme of this war."

    And what a wonderful war it was between the Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche.

    Granted these two franchises are not close to each other geographically (1,268.5 miles). However, when it comes to heated and hate-filled rivalries, it'd be hard to top this one.

    From 1996–2002, the teams met in five playoff series, including three times in the Western Conference Finals. Out of those seven seasons, the teams combined to win five Stanley Cups and four Presidents' Trophies. That's a lot of hockey hardware, folks. 

    Detroit leads the all-time regular season series: 59-46-5

    Watch hard-hitting Red Wings defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov freight train Avalanche right winger Claude Lemieux from a 1996 contest.

    Here's more about the blood feud between these two teams. 

    Details about their big-time brawls of the past can be found here.

    One more rivalry to go and its a beauty. Check out the next slide.

Hate Along the Hudson

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    "A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood."

    General Patton had his own take on how war should be waged. But in the hotly-contested rivalry between the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils, there's always been plenty of sweat. And blood has been hardly saved.

    These two teams make no secret of the fact that they detest each other. So much so, that when former-Devil Zach Parise was asked if he'd join the Rangers when he became an unrestricted free agent this past July, he promptly answered, "No way."

    The Stanley Cup playoffs have been a big part of this classic showdown, as the Rangers defeated the Devils in seven unbelievable games in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, on their way to the Stanley Cup. The Devils knocked the Rangers out of the ECF in six games last season, as they advanced to the Cup Finals.

    More details on the series can be found here.

    The Rangers lead the all-time regular season series:101-84-27-6

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