Rivalry can be fun, and rivalry can be dangerous.
A sports rivalry is intense competition between athletic teams or athletes. This pressure of competition is felt by players, coaches, and management, but is perhaps felt strongest by the fans. The intensity of the rivalry varies from a friendly competition on one end to serious violence. Team owners typically encourage rivialries as they tend to improve game attendance and television ratings for rivalry matches, but a rivalry that gets out of control can lead to fighting, hooliganism, rioting and some, with career ending or worse, fatal consequences. Often the topic of sports rivalries is as heated and controversial as politics and religion (source: Wikipedia).
The Blackhawks have a few rivals, but none quite as heated as the ones they find in the Vancouver Canucks. You want a definition of intense?
Last night the two rival teams faced off in a game which manifested their mutual dislike for each other to the nth degree. We're not just talking about players trying to run each other over, we're talking full-out brawls including some of the most unprovokable players. At one point even Patty Kane was fighting someone off. Yes, it was that kind of a game.
Luongo was in net for the Canucks, and he happily did not have much to do in the first period, but once the second period started, it was on. The Blackhawks forced Lulu to hug the stick-side of his net for dear life as the shots just kept coming (props to him for making so many important saves during the game - 35 to be exact).
Our favorite new brawler, Patrick Kane eventually beat Luongo to score for the Blackhawks and after that, shit got real.
The Canucks did a great job of getting under the Hawks' skin. Duncan Keith - yes, our usually calm and easy-going Duncan Keith - elbowed Daniel Sedin in the face, causing him to leave the game for good.
This was not necessarily in direct response to the shoulder Keith received in the face from Sedin earlier which had him bang his head into the glass (not justifying, just saying).
Both hits were undisputedly dirty and both Keith and Sedin quickly became trends in Canada on Twitter:
After the game, Keith declined to comment on the hit saying only that he wasn't trying to hurt anyone and that he hoped Sedin was OK - we can expect a PR'd statement later. The Canucks camp didn't bother to wait for PR to pretty up their statements and took to the media to bash Keith and call the Hawks out for being a "tough team". Right.
While they are entitled to their opinions, they should at least try to make themselves look more informed so their statements are not discredited upon delivery. Just a quick FYI: The Hawks are not a tough team at all. It's true that they played tougher than usual for this game, but that's rivalry. And like, welcome to the NHL - other teams aren't going to play like ragdolls. Do the Canucks understand this, or are they simply refusing to step outside themselves?
Instead of trying to make it seem like they were just innocently trying to play stick-ball in the yard til the bullies came, maybe the Canucks should stop being so self-involved. No wonder they were classified the most over-rated team in the league - it seems they never stop complaining or playing the victim. The game was tough and provoked from both sides, but stuff like that happens to every team in the league. Sometimes the refs make questionable calls, sometimes the other team's Players do things they shouldn't, but the Canucks aren't the only ones it happens to; so why are they always the ones pissing and moaning about it?
Perhaps they would have been singing a different song had they been victorious in OT, however this was not the case. Johnny Oduya sent a puck flying at just the right angle to deflect off Andrew Shaw into the net.
Final score: CHI 2, VAN 1 (OT).
The fact that this game got Keith riled up - and Seabrook, Sharp, and Stalberg even got in on the multiple brawls that transpired - speaks volumes about the type of rivalry at play between the Hawks and the Canucks. It's intense and it's dirty. Both teams knew this coming into the game, the better team just prevailed.
Keith will likely receive a three-game suspension for his hit on Sedin and the Canucks will likely receive dismal results in the Play-offs.
UPDATED: Last night the NHL made it known that instead of the original phone hearing they had set for Keith, they would require him to do an in-person hearing at a later date. This apparently leaves the option open for him to receive a 5+ game suspension. TSN's Bob McKenzie called it "strange" and it is a little bit off-beat considering others in the league who have committed similar acts had quick proceedings and received 3 game suspensions, case closed.
My guess is that the league is trying to set precedent with Keith's case and deter others from engaging in similar behavior. If this is the case, it is too bad they didn't set this precedent in earlier instances (the case of Raffi Torres - in which they did not discipline him for premeditated dirty play - comes to mind). Or maybe it's to appease the obviously enraged Vancouver side so they don't think this is being taken lightly (again, Torres comes to mind, for different reasons this time).
On the flip side, this could be just so they have the option of giving him 5 games, perhaps Keith's slow monotone Canadian accent will convince them that he doesn't deserve a hefty suspension.
More from the NHL to come this afternoon.
Tags: Andrew Shaw, Blackhawks, brawls, Canucks, Chicago, Daniel Sedin, Dirty elbow, Duncan Keith, Duncs, fights, game recap, Hawks Win, Henrik Sedin, Hockey, Johnny Oduya, Keith, Luu, Madhouse, NHL, no crying in hockey, Overtime, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Rivalry, Roberto Luongo, Sedin sisters, Sedins, Shanahan, suspension, Trending, Twitter, Vancouver