The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in.
- George Orwell, 1984
The thing about having a beloved sports franchise is that there's always an enemy. For the Red Sox, it's the Yankees, for the Tar Heels it's the Blue Devils and for my Oilers it's the Flames (spit). And every now and then, just how there's a player that we absolutely love on our team, there's a player that we can absolutely hate on another. Oiler fans hate Mike Comrie (spit), Jays fans absolutely hated Dennis Eckersley, Canadien fans absolutely hate any Maple Leaf. And something happened the other day that I never thought would happen.
I was cheering for the Dallas Stars. How terrible! This is a team that ruined my spring like 6 out of 7 years, even though that first year was absolutely magical and will be cherished the rest of my life. What would cause this sudden change in behaviour? My hatred for Chris Pronger. I hate this player so much that I've been rooting for the Dallas Stars to figuratively impale the Anaheim Ducks (and maybe literally impale Chris Pronger). Mike Modano, Marty Turco and even Brendan Morrow, all objects of my contempt are now needed to defeat a bigger evil, kinda like when Professor X and Magneto work together to take down Apocalypse. The enemy of my enemy is my friend and Chris Pronger is a bigger enemy than a whole team of guys that owned my hate for so long.
I also suspect that part of the reason I've eased off on the Stars is because the hate was being spread to thin. It's easy to love your team with all your heart, there's only one of them. But hate usually gets spread around 4-5 teams as well as a handful of players that outright piss you off. Damian Cox has written an intriguing article saying that Brian Burke would be the front runner for the Leafs' empty GM position should the Ducks exit the playoffs in the first round. Just another reason for me to cheer for Dallas - they offer me an opportunity to consolidate my hate. Love will always require hate, I'm just hoping for a more efficient way to manage it.