Wednesday Night Lie-valry: Blackhawks vs Flyers

LIE velry small

NBC is doing their series of Wednesday night games again this year, known in past years as “Wednesday Night Rivalry.” This, typically, pits historical or geographical rivals against each other: i.e. Kings-Sharks, Rangers-Bruins, etc. But, sometimes, it does not.  Take last year’s Bruins-Wild game as one example. Minnesota and Boston have no animosity between each other that anyone can discern. In fact, a bruin might actually enjoy the wild. Don’t bears live in the wild? Don’t bears shit in the woods…?

Well, we here at The Royal Half would like to help NBC avoid any awkwardness and confusion this season with the non-rival teams appearing on Rivalry Night. Borrowing from NCAA football (which, no, is not a great idea, but why don’t you be a little more optimistic, jeez), we will create rivalry “trophies” for select matchups.  Thus, these teams can play for something.

If you are unfamiliar with rivalry trophies, here is how they work: for example, historical and geographic rivals such as USC-UCLA play for the Victory Bell, while others like Iowa-Minnesota play for the outside-the-box trophy the Floyd of Rosedale.

iowa002_0

Ugh, this is the worst Babe sequel yet.

Though these teams may not win their respective league’s championship trophy, they can play for something. But some are forced and manufactured, like the UConn-UCF Civil Conflict.  No history, no geography. But, that’s where we come in.  These trophies succeed in giving a group of athletes and fans a random piece of wood and/or metal to hold over their vanquished foes.  So, let’s make some rivalries.

This week’s matchup:

FLYRPENT4_Flyers vs Black Hawk_Champ_Pennant

History

Flyers: 57 wins

Blackhawks: 45 wins

30 ties

Began playing in 1967

One meeting in the Stanley Cup playoffs

Explanation

These two teams have won eight Stanley Cups between them, most notably meeting in the Stanley Cup Final in 2010.  That series marked the beginning of the current Blackhawks dynasty – three Cups in five seasons, and four Western Conference final appearances during that span – and a lot of bad press, and the beginning of the reluctant rebuilding process in Philadelphia – as well as a lot of bad press.  Perhaps this is the reason the game is featured on rivalry night, but this calls into question what constitutes an east versus west rivalry.  Are the Lightning and Blackhawks rivals all of a sudden just because they played against each other in the Final?  Or Detroit and Pittsburgh because of those back-to-back seasons?  If anything, the Blackhawks are the only team in the current iteration of the Western Conference that would get the privilege of being a rival with someone from the East due to historical roots and recent success.  The Kings have no beef with the Devils or Rangers, and the last non-Chicago or LA Western champ in Vancouver have bigger problems than the Bruins.

This year’s version of these teams is more or less a microcosm of the last few years.  The Blackhawks look like a force in the West still, and may have already clinched the Central Division.  The Flyers, well, they are already having players only meetings less than a week into the season.  So, that’s a good sign.  Of course, the Patrick Kane situation paints everything the Blackhawks do a pale color, and his current legal problems are an issue too.  So, the scrappy underdog Flyers will look to take down Goliath for the greater good of society as a whole.

So, let’s party like it’s 2010!

The heated vitriol from the cheap seats

https://twitter.com/Asking_Vandevi_/status/411329513038311424

https://twitter.com/JerryTacobs/status/609889995365617664

Oh hey, this guy is still playing…

(Every rivalry game has an X-factor, a hero, or someone who’s surprising success or ill-timed ineptitude that turns them into the answer to a trivia question.)

Also, especially in the NHL, there are players on the roster you have probably forgotten about.  So, hey, remember Vincent Lecavalier?  He played for the Stanley Cup winning Lightning, like, forty years ago.  He’s the guy from that team that wasn’t Martin St. Louis.  Really, that’s the best thing he has going for him.  Well, he plays for Philadelphia now.  He has not played a game this year, and his production has been declining over the past two seasons he has been with the Flyers.  He was drafted #1 overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, 21 spots before Simon Gagne.  He’s probably not going to play, but he had this hat-trick two years ago as a new Flyer.

Wow, what a horrible/fantastic memory!

Remember that stupid goal to clinch the 2010 Cup for the Blackhawks?  Can you think of another goal that lacked so much emotion in a moment of high drama?  It’s like if in 2012, Kings fans were stuck in traffic trying to get to Staples Center during the threegoal flurry in the first period.  Or when Team Canada wins the gold medal in overtime.  Is there any nation any more undeserving?  No, there is not.

Rivalry trophy

The rivalry trophy the Blackhawks and Flyers battle for is the Chris Pronger Music Box. Manufactured after the Chicago Tribune’s “Chrissy Pronger” graphic in 2010 (YES THIS WAS A REAL THING. EVEN JIM ROME TALKED ABOUT IT), placing then Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger in an ice dancer’s tutu to detail what they perceived to be soft and effeminate qualities he displayed during the 2010 Final. This took on a life of its own, as this music box was crafted as a draft for the following season’s Salute to the Pennsylvania Ballet/Chris Pronger music box giveaway night. Sadly, this night never came to fruition since many felt giving away a statuary showing Pronger as a nimble and delicate ice dancer would be insensitive to him due to offseason knee surgery. After a win last March, the Flyers are the current holders of the trophy.

pronger ballerina final

Flubber McGee is TRH's resident Kansas City correspondent, and has survived as a Kings fan long before the dawn of Internet streaming sites. He has seen the Kings win exactly zero non-exhibition games in person. Have you ever achieved enlightenment? Flubber has, because he once witnessed Kevin and Brett Westgarth fight in, and get kicked out of, the same game (they didn't fight each other, unfortunately). In addition to being a part of TRH, Flubber runs a Kansas City hockey blog. It's exactly what you think it is. You can follow Flubber McGee on Twitter @FlubberMcGee.