An Ode to Hatred (or, Why I Still Can’t Stand the Flames).

Calgary Flames vs. Chicago Blackhawks - Game 5 of the 2009 NHL Playoffs

Calgary Flames vs. Chicago Blackhawks – Game 5 of the 2009 NHL Playoffs

I found the conclusion of the Flames game last night to be unusually satisfying. I was watching the game with my son, who has taken a shine to the Flames because of family we have in Calgary that we all care about a great deal. Though it pains me greatly, he actually identifies himself as a Flames fan.

After cheering (overly?) loud after the Hawks built their lead to 4 goals (game summary here), he asked me why I hated them so much. Of course, I sent him to his room and took away video games for a week.

I should have done that, but what I actually did was think for a second, and realize that there’s really no reason anymore. You can’t help but respect the way Iginla plays, although Calgarians lose my respect by calling him Iggy. The franchise appears to have made a smart move in bringing in Keenan to coach, but he does make them much harder to like. But they are a generally likable bunch of players who seem to have a pretty good work ethic and a decent amount of class. So why do I still hate them so much??

I realized that the seeds of a truly great sports rivalry start in childhood, so I told my son about the once-in-a-lifetime brand of hockey Albertans were treated to in the 80s. I tried to describe the frequent bench clearing brawls, and how truly nasty were players like Jim Peplinski, Theo Fleury, Mel Bridgeman, Nick Foitu and even Stu Grimson later on. He didn’t have the rare privilege of seeing the tremendous intensity that these two teams brought to every game they played against each other, so I tried to explain to him that you couldn’t be in the building watching those games without hating one team or the other – they were both that good.

Then I tried to tell him that it was still OK to like the Flames, even if I didn’t, and that the important thing is that he stands up for his convictions.

But I still grounded him for a week.

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