The unbalanced schedule has wreaked havoc on our ability to hate each team properly. Gary Bettman's ridiculous idea to have teams play more often against fewer opponents in the regular season has done nothing to create rivlaries. Of course, that's something that anyone with any knowledge of hockey could have told him. Instead, we have a southern market team (for some that is enough to hate) and a former Original Six rival that used to provide us with moments like this:
If I remember correctly, the Gardens crowd, as the Leafs went on to win 5-1, serenaded Crazy Eddie with chants of "Bel-ONE!, Bel-TWO!, Bel-THREE!, Bel-FOUR!, Bel-FIVE!" Good times. Here are some numbers with the team's NHL rankings:
Anyway, after the jump, three bloggers will argue the case for their respective sides:
Dirk Hoag of On The Forecheck is up first as he makes the case for supporting a formerly failing southern market that seems to be on its way to stability...albeit with lots of Toronto's money:
Reason to root for Nashville: Because Steve Sullivan is still one of the best stories in hockey. Even after winning the Masterton Trophy last summer, he defied expectations by playing all 82 games this season and tied for the team lead in scoring. And besides, if you don't, Shea Weber will come to town and knock over the CN Tower with a slap shot.
Reason to root against Chicago: You guys don't want to have the distinction of "team with the longest Stanley Cup drought", do you? The Blackhawks are at 49 years and counting.
Forklift from HockeeNight, half of the hosting duo of their Puckcast which has had me as a guest twice, hits on a lot of important reasons but knows he has an ace in the hole:
ONE REASON WHY LEAFS FANS SHOULD CHEER FOR THE CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS:
Basically, we're Leafs South...think about it:
Original Six team? Check.
No Cup since the 60s? Check.
History of shitty ownership? Check.
Play in an arena named after an airline? Check.
The only difference between the Hawks and Leafs at this point is that our last shitty owner gave up the ghost, and his son took over, and learned from Dad's mistakes. While the Hawks reaped the benefits of being a poor excuse for an NHL franchise for years, drafting players like Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in the first round, William Wirtz was kind enough to croak before these guys' contracts came up. So now Rocky Wirtz is willing to pay for players. See, not only are there countless parallels between the Hawks and Leafs, but you Leafs fans can look at the Hawks and see where the Leafs can go.
Oh, and Wendel Clark played for the Blackhawks. I think we're done here.
ONE REASON WHY LEAFS FANS SHOULD NOT CHEER FOR THE NASHVILLE PREDATORS:
They took an awesome name and fucked it up. Look, I was excited when I heard they were calling the team the Predators. I was hoping for a picture of the Predator from the second-greatest Arnold movie of all-time, just behind "Commando" (this topic is not subject to debate). Instead what do we get? Some sort of sabre-toothed tiger? Maybe it's a Liger, who the hell knows. It doesn't look badass, it just looks like the cat who locked Fred Flintstone out of the house during the closing credits. That big a screwup is reason enough.
I also could have gone with the fact that the longer Nashville is in the playoffs, the more you have to look at Barry Trotz.
SamFels from Second City Hockey decides to appeal to our patriotism and then basically seals the deal against the Blackhawks. Blackhawk Down will hopefully be ubiquitous in a couple of weeks.
Reasons For: Well, first of all, we hate Detroit even more than you do, and you must hate them a lot because the smell from that city most certainly drifts your way. Our Cup drought is as long as yours so you know our pain. And most of all, our captain pretty much went out and won you an Olympic Gold Medal, so you owe us.
Reasons against: Even though our Cup drought is 6 years longer than yours, ours doesn't get nearly the pub, so jealousy should reign supreme. And Patrick Kane is a cocky little American shit, so while we're allowed to love it...Oh, and all of us fucking hate Wendel Clark, so there.