A Call For A Rivalry

My previous post delt with the beginning of this season’s series between the Blues and the Blackhawks – a beginning that was going ever so well thanks to David Perron until Marian Hossa felt the need to score… and the Blues felt the need to let the Hawks use Jaroslav Halak as a bench. This year’s rivalry didn’t start the way we wanted it to, but there’s always Friday!  HA.

“Wait, it’s “saber,” not “saab-ray?”

Anywho, tonight marks the first time this season that the Buffalo Sabres come to Philips Arena. This annual migration of Buffalonians exascerbates Thrasher fans more so than any other team’s visitors coming to pop in. Penguins fans are (mostly) cool. Blackhawks fans are fun. Wings fans, well, we tolerate them, but they’re buying stuff from our vendors, so we’ll cope. Even Flyers fans are getting to where I don’t cringe when I see them – but that might be because of the ones who bought me sympathy beers at a blowout a few years back.

I am a hockey fan first off and formost. I like just about everyone, because they love the same sport that I do. If you’ve made the unfortunate lifestyle decision to wear a Winged Wheel, that’s your choice, and I will try to accept that. But please don’t be a raging ass for no reason. That’s all I ask. Especially since I sit in the attack once side and am usually surrounded by visiting fans.

This is why the Sabres at Thrashers games are so… unique. I know a lot of Buffalo fans who are really, really cool and nice people (Vance from Bangin’ Panger comes to mind)… and I really wish that they’d sit the folks who will be at the game tonight and teach them proper hockey decorum.

Yes, it’s fine to heckle, as long as it’s done with humor. No, it is not fine to call the home fans “douchebags” and “assholes” while you’re in their arena if you’re not doing it with a smile on your face. Make fun of Atlanta hockey – go on, be horribly un-original, because it’s not like we’ve never heard it before. Get drunk – our beer dudes like the tips. But don’t follow a seven year old kid into the gentlemen’s room to start a fight. And don’t do that in the stands, either.

Come to think of it, unless you’re on the ice with skates and a stick, fighting should be generally frowned upon.

Honestly, the fixation that Buffalo and Atlanta fans have with each other should be grounds for a rivalry, but it’s not. Buffalo has Toronto, and we have the Caps (or we like to think that we have the Capitals). No one in the league will ever tout the great back and forth between two cities so far apart. I swear that it exists, though. I don’t know of a single person who, upon seeing that both of our home games against Buffalo are in October this season, didn’t say “Oh, thank God, we get it over with early this year.” If dreading the arrival of a team isn’t a big contributing factor to a rivalry, what is?

How about going 7-0-2 against Buffalo since that awful 10-1 blowout in January of 2008?  In the past three seasons, we’ve gotten 18 out of 24 possible points from the Sabres, and yet we have to constantly hear how much the Thrashers suck and how much better the Sabres are. There – if a Sabres fan heckles you tonight, mention that. Maybe it’ll make them focus their attention on something else more productive, like trying to come up with funny swipes at you and your team. Because that’s what hockey’s really all about. Forget geographic location, or a long and storied history – we need to base rivalries over annoyances, dammit.

About Laura Astorian

Laura Astorian is the head editor for the SB Nation blog St. Louis Game Time and has been a Blues fan from childhood. She promises that any anti-Blackhawks bias will be left at the door. Maybe.