San Jose Sharks' 5 Biggest Rivals in the NHL

Scott Semmler@@ScottSemmler22Analyst IIAugust 18, 2011

San Jose Sharks' 5 Biggest Rivals in the NHL

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    When you think rivalries in sports, what teams do you think about?

    Red Sox/Yankees?  Lakers/Celtics?  Giants/Dodgers?

    In the grand scheme of sports, hockey rivalries rarely get much love.  However, the sport of hockey should promote the biggest rivalries if you think about it.

    Players are able to ignite competitive frustration with their fists. 

    Enough said.

    What other sport can say that without a hefty fine or suspension following it?

    It is not to say that fighting and rivalries go together, although they sure stand in the same vicinity. The willingness and importance of beating that opposing team rises above and beyond when that one team takes the ice.

    For the Sharks, there are several teams that feel that way.

    We can talk about how divisional games or teams residing in the same area ignite rivalries, but the events that make a classic rivalry come in the playoffs. The competition level rises and rivalries are made.

    Here are the Sharks top rivals in the NHL.

Honorable Mention

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    Of course, this is not a rivalry just yet, and time will tell how much frustration these two teams have for each other, but the recent trades of the 2011 offseason between these two teams could spark quite a rivalry.

    Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley were traded from the Sharks to the Wild for Brent Burns and Martin Havlat in two separate deals this offseason.  The swap could ignite a little frustration from Setoguchi and Heatley to the Sharks, as the franchise pretty much traded them away saying that they were both disappointments in their time in San Jose.

    It will interesting to see how the players react to their former teams on January 10, 2012.

5. Colorado Avalanche

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    It could be that they play in the same conference or even in the same part of the country, but the Sharks/Avs rivalry started in the playoffs.

    We can say all we want about how the rivalry came to be, but the Sharks/Avs series in the 2010 Western Conference playoffs is the last memory of these two teams simply going at it.

    The first round of the playoffs is good theater sometimes, but in 2010, it was everything for the Sharks.

    After being ousted by the Ducks the previous year as the No. 1 seed, San Jose needed to show the No. 8 seeded Avalanche that they meant business this year.

    That they did after a physically and mentally draining series that saw the Sharks pull out on top.

4. Dallas Stars

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    I am not sure how much fizzle this rivalry has left, although any team with Steve Ott on it gives the other team a reason to hit someone.

    However, these rivals get their fuel from the fact that they play in the same division and see each other more than any other team.

    The history of the rivalry dates back to 1998 in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

    Stars goalie Ed Belfour took it upon himself to make a mark on the Sharks after a scuffle in front of the net in a 4-1 San Jose victory.

3. Los Angleles Kings

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    There is one sole reason for a rivalry between these two teams, and it is sure to be ignited this next season with them being two of the top teams in the NHL.

    The Bay Area and Los Angeles hate each other, whether it be the Giants/Dodgers or Warriors/Lakers or Clippers.  However, the Sharks/Kings rivalry is sure to get a kick in the pants in these next few seasons—and most certainly this season.

    San Jose ousted a very promising Kings team in last year's first round of the playoffs.  With L.A. upgrading their roster, there is sure to be another meeting next year as well.

2. Detroit Red Wings

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    If you have been to a Sharks/Red Wings game, you know all too well how intense this rivalry is.

    The two teams only meet four times a year, and most of the time they are at the top of the Western Conference standings.

    What fully ignites this rivalry is that every year, it seems, they end up playing each other in the playoffs.

    A few years ago, the Red Wings were the stopper to the Sharks.  Now, the Sharks are the stopper to the Red Wings, with two straight years of second-round exits.

    The two teams have consistently been at the top of the West the last few years, which is why this rivalry is as competitive as one in the NHL.

1. Anaheim Ducks

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    There is only one reason for this rivalry: the 2009 Western Conference playoffs.

    Say what you will about it being an SF/LA rivalry.  The Sharks/Ducks rivalry comes from Jonas Hiller and the 2009 Ducks team that spoiled the Presidents Cup for San Jose.

    After the Sharks claimed the No. 1 overall seed in the NHL Playoffs, they met up with an Anaheim team that had their number all season and knew every part of their game.

    The Sharks fell hard in the series and have been labeled as "chokers" ever since.

    Since the Sharks play them several time a year, there is no stopping this physical rivalry the two have.

    If you like this article, check out my Bay Area Sports Talk blog