Bitter Rivalries Only Getting Better

----- -----------Correspondent IJuly 7, 2009

MONTREAL- APRIL 22:  Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens stops the puck on a shot by Stephane Yelle #18 of the Boston Bruins during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on April 22, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Bruins defeated the Canadiens 4-1 winning the series 4-0.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

So it's seven days past the free agent frenzy, and Montreal has been turned upside down. CJAD wouldn't stop talking about the prospect of getting Vincent Lecavalier into town before his no-trade kicks in, and there where more then enough rumors to throw around and feed the hockey-fueled city. We had rumors of Hossa and Gaborik and everything in between Canada and Russia. 

But no one predicted the outcome, which to our delight will only enhance the rich rivalries that exist in hockey today. King Kom went to Toronto as everyone is undoubtedly aware. You can say he's a traitor or he was loyal, he wanted the money or we didn't offer him what he was worth and to be honest, every one of those reasons are true.

One thing remains, though: Toronto got very big, and very fast. Montreal got very small just as quickly. We have more skill and talent and they have the method to slap us back 101 years with eight top NHL caliber defensemen. I wouldn't be surprised if we split the season's matchups simply because one night we can win 8-0 or lose 8-0 depending how hard we get hit or how fast we dodge the checking. 

Then we have Ottawa. I couldn't be hoping and praying any harder for the Dany Heatley situation to unravel and just leave our division. The guy plagues us, between Spezza and Alfredsson and Heater, we always had troubles with the Senators. I remember one game two years back where our only hope was Kovalev netting a hat trick to recoup our losses in that game.

So now, another city favorite drives down the road and sets up camp in another city, but in our division, and undoubtedly if he returns to form will haunt us and kill us. His shot from the top of the circle through any defensemen's legs into the top of the net is like clockwork, you know it comes on the hour every hour. And even when he is inconsistent and plays poorly, he still does damage. It's hard not to imagine Kovalev returning to amazing form being placed on a line with any one of the big three Ottawa already has. 

Then we have Boston, who got rugged grinder Steve Begin to go along with the one who is already making us bite our lip, Michael Ryder. Ryder will only continue to show us how much better he is on any other team then Montreal, and you can expect Begin to be as gritty for them as he was for us. He even was quoted as saying he is finally on the "right side" of the rivalry. Boston's size will already make for tough games as they did for us last season and during the playoffs. This is just insult to injury already. 

Then we have one of our top "prospects" who many in the city anticipated to remain for quite some time; Chris Higgens. Where did he go, you might ask? Well, just hop over Decarie and down the Champlain. Higgins signed as an RFA with the New York Rangers. To be fair we did this to ourselves, we traded him along with some others for Scott Gomez.

So when it comes down to it, one way or another, we contributed to a bigger Maple Leafs, who will drop their goals against numbers like a brick from atop the Bell Center with the amount of defensemen and "The Monster" they signed. We have an entirely unfair amount of top forwards on the Ottawa Senators with our (at times) Captain with enough skill to outweigh what we signed and finally we have the Bruins, with all the weight of Zdeno Chara squishing against the glass.

So let's tally it up Bell Center Boo Birds, you better gargle with salt water because the amount of people you have to sing for now has quadroupled over a few short days. Komisarek, Kovalev, Ryder, Begin, Higgins, probably Tanguay and even a couple others. Only thing that couple make it worse is Koivu in Toronto. 

That being said, those teams have to face a much faster, more skilled Habitants. So grab a case of Labatt Blue (or, in honor of our new Owners a case of Molson Dry, they do have to afford over $100 Million over five years) and get ready to enjoy some pretty good hockey. I think these rivalries will get more intense then we have seen in the past 10 years or so.