One of the byproducts of having the most successful decade in franchise history is that it inspires a lot of hate from opposing teams. It’s easy to root against a team that keeps winning, or at least is always in the mix. Sustained postseason runs also make it easy to develop enmity towards other teams, because playoff battles bring out a lot of strong emotions.
I only came to be a Kings fan within the last decade, but I’ve already grown to hate so many other NHL teams. That also means that I don’t have the clearest idea of who lifelong Kings fans think of as the team’s primary rival.
Here are the contenders:
Local rivalries are usually a good place to start, especially because players tend to switch sides with significant frequency, and the Freeway Faceoff is no different. Two teams occupying (relatively) the same market always generates some distaste. The fact that that the Kings and the Ducks have only ever met in the playoffs once lessens some of the rivalry, but that 2014 conference semifinals series was a doozy. Per Hockey Fights, the Kings have had 108 fights with the Ducks, seventh-most in tea, history, but a shockingly high number considering how young the Anaheim franchise is.
Intra-city rivalries are good, but Californians love their north-south feuds. Giants/Dodgers, Niners/Rams, and even Earthquakes/Galaxy are all fraught rivalries within this state. Being in the same division only adds to the competition. That’s why the Sharks are so readily hate-able, and that’s before you get into the two teams’ playoff history.
The Kings and the Sharks have faced off in four playoff series this decade, with each team winning two, including L.A.’s 3-0 comeback against San Jose in 2014. The Sharks have the most recent win, ending the Kings’ even-year streak in 2016 with a power play unit that still haunts me. Fortunately, while the Kings turned both of their series victories into Stanley Cup titles, the Sharks are still crown-less.
There is admittedly recency bias here, but when two teams combine for five Cup titles in six years and meet in the Western Conference Finals in back-to-back seasons, it’s possible to jumpstart a rivalry. The 2014 Blackhawks/Kings series is one of the most epic I’ve ever witnessed in any sport, and easily the most tense victory of the title runs. Chicago is still a conference rival, but the fact that the teams aren’t in the same division, and that both have been on the downswing over the past few years, lessens some of the tension. However, that peak was something else.
I probably lean towards the Sharks as the Kings’ biggest rival, and I’m interested to see if Vegas progresses as a real challenger to that throne in the coming years, but let’s set this to a vote.
Who do you think are the Kings’ biggest rivals?
This poll is closed