One of the common traits across all sports is rivalries. Big teams, little teams, teams in the middle, international teams, amateur teams, professional teams, and teams of all sports often have rivalries. Those opponents that you would especially love to see your favorite team win. Those opponents that put a little bit extra bounce in your step when you see your favorite team beat them. Those opponents that ruin your day when they beat your favorite team. Those opponents that the fans, the players, the coaches, management, media, and all other on-lookers pay a little more attention to when they come to play your favorite team.
When you become a fan of a team, one of the first questions asked was "Who are the team's rivals? Who do the fans hate the most?" I honestly was asked this question recently by a new fan to the Rock. I was able to tell her that she would find out very quickly thanks to some of the fan's chants. However, it got me to thinking, wouldn't it be great to have a list of not only who are the Devils rivals but also why do Devils fans hate those teams?
The New Jersey Devils have a number of rivalries in the NHL. In my opinion, as it currently stands, there are two big Rivalries - two teams that Devils fans across the board despise and would love to see beaten over and over by New Jersey. A number of teams who are sort of in a mix of teams various people hate for various reasons.
For this guide, I've included responses directly from In Lou We Trust users to get a base opinion on each team.
The New York Rangers
The Devils fans yell "Rangers Suck" at nearly every home game. There are t-shirts you can buy at the Gateway Center that say "I only root for two teams The Devils and whoever is beating the Rangers." Earlier in January, I met a fan named Eddie on my way to the Rock who was wearing this jersey to the game. It pretty much sums up the feeling Devils fans have for the Rangers (thanks to Eddie for letting me take this photo for ILWT):
Yes, Devils fans hate the Rangers. With a passion. Here are some reasons from the ILWT users as to why they hate them so much:
- From user elesias, more than a few reasons, largely all about the Rangers' fanbase:
In all, I find that my dislike of a team is due in large part to their fans. On ice activities contribute of course, and it’s natural to dislike a team that seems to have your teams number, but for me, it’s almost exclusively about the fans. That’s part of why I usually pull for the underdog… I hate arrogant fans.
Speaking of arrogant fans, they are the main reason I hate the Rangers. I’ve been to more than a few games between the two teams and of all the games I’ve been to, they were all by far the worst experiences because of visiting Rangers fans being obnoxious, disruptive and obscene.
The last Devils/Rangers game I went to, and the last one I’ll ever attend, was several years ago (a 1-0 victory by the Devils in CAA) and the entire experience was ruined for me and my girlfriend by a group of visiting Rangers fans and their pre-pubescent children shouting their opinions about the sexual preferences of Devils players, and of their apparent distaste for people with those sexual preferences.
I’m no prude and I’ve got a foul mouth at times, but these 10 year old kids were making me blush.
Additionally, teams earn my ire by employing players I cannot stand, and Sean Avery about tops that list.
Throw in all the fatso jokes, general misrepresentations of the state of NJ by ignorant New Yorkers and their fanbase’s penchant for hypocrisy and being generally misinformed, and yet extremely vocal as if being louder means being righter, and there you go.
Plus, they have ugly uniforms.
They mock the Devils for their "boring" style or play and yet (attempt to) mimic them and hire away their players at every opportunity. [Ed. note: This was largely the case when coached by Tom Renney, after the 2005 lockout]
- Even geography plays a role, per user elesias, separated here for it's vital nature:
I really think geographical proximity is the single largest contributing factor behind fans hating other teams. If there is already a rivalry, like being in the same division, I imagine it’s very easy to find things to hate about another team close by.
- User WWZPD highlights a general dislike for New York sports teams, the city, and the Rangers' arena:
As for the Rangers, I pretty much hate all NY sports team, The whole city has this arrogance that just from being NY automatically makes you "bad" or something, which bothers me. NY is pretentious and that song from Jay-Z is stupid and annoying.
You know what else grinds my gears? Why is so damn dark in MSG? The Rock was better lit on January 8th.
- User Devilssection21fan questions the arrogance of the Rangers fans considering the lack of success of the Rangers:
What really gets under my skin about the Rangers and their fans is that despite the fact that they are one of the LEAST successful franchises in hockey (maybe even in all the big 4 sports), their fans are pretty arrogant and also think they have a great "tradition." How is it a great tradition when your team rarely even made the playoffs when there were only 6 teams and 4 of them made the playoffs? I believe the Rangers made the playoffs fewer times than any of the other team during the original 6 era. How is it a great tradition when your team has won the championship ONCE in 70 years? Yet they sell out their building. Personally I think Ranger fans are crazy to support that team with the product that has been given to them. Their loyalty is being taken advantage of.
Clarification from Devilssection21fan: The Rangers missed the postseason 18 out of 25 times during the Original Six era. When 4 out of 6 teams made the playoffs. And when they made the playoffs in those 7 times, they made it out of the first series only once.
- User R_Adragna piles on the Rangers' organization itself:
With the Rangers, it goes back to the philosophy of New York teams, like the Yankees for instance: sign the biggest names in the sport and expect the championships to roll in easily. The only thing is that the Rangers haven’t won enough to prove that philosophy true.
Also, it comes down to two central figures: Sean Avery and Glen Sather. Avery and New York were made for each other; the flashy style of Manhattan suits his mindset well, he is all about an extravagant lifestyle. Because of that, this makes him a really irritating human being (if you wanna call him that). As for Sather, he’s over the hill. He believes he can bring in big name talent just to recapture his magic in Edmonton. Everyone knows, though, that time has passed him by, only he doesn’t know it.
The Philadelphia Flyers
Since their inception, they have dominated southern New Jersey just as the Rangers have had a long stronghold on northern New Jersey. Yet, since the Devils moved from Colorado, they represent the #2 most hated team in many fans' eyes for numerous reasons. After all, they are the subject of the "swallow" part after people yell "Rangers Suck." Here are some reasons from the users:
- User WWZPD goes into depth about what it's like in southern New Jersey, where the Flyers take the area for granted:
The reason I am a Devils fan because I got into hockey when I was real young, like 6 or 7 and when I was watching a Devils/ Flyers game, the only concept I thought of was that I was from NJ and the guys in red and black were representing that. I knew I wasnt from Philadelphia, so why root for the Flyers? Everyone around here will tell you "It’s because we're south jersey." All I can think of is, "So what!" The Flyers do very little in showing support or recognition for south Jersey, a place where a majority of where their fans come from.
- User elesias denotes a few recent Flyer players who grind his gears:
While the Devils (and Marty in particular) always seem to reach milestones against them, there were some noted (in my mind) Devils killers from Philadelphia who I grew to loathe for their habit of (un)timely goals: Gagne, Downie and Upshall to name a few
The vehemence with which everyone from the GM on down to the fans who snidely name their blogs after their infamous bullyish moniker continue to deny and dismiss the team’s thuggish history as history, while building a team of players with thuggish histories (see: Carcillo, Daniel; Betts, Blair; Cote, Riley, LaPerriere, Ian; Emery, Ray; Pronger, Chris; etc.); though some wait until on the team to start, like the team’s reputation gives license to behave like a thug—a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts (see: Briere, Daniel; Richards, Mike; Carter, Jeff).
Chris "Captain Elbows" Pronger. The man should have had his NHL playing privilege revoked around the time of the infamous leg-stomp on Kesler, but certainly before he was allowed to sign his most recent long-term, salary-cap dodging contract.
Their reputation for goonery may get them some iffy penalties called against them, but they get away with many precisely because they have a reputation for goonery and they’re "par for the course" (see: Carter's hit on Salmela; just about anything Pronger does; Gagne's high stick to Salvador’s face, etc.)
- User elesias also developed what he calls the "Lindros Collorary"
The newly invented corollary to Godwin’s Law, which, for lack of a better name and my modesty not allowing me to name it after myself, is temporarily called "The Lindros Corollary":
As a discussion between a Devils fan and a Flyers fan grows longer, the probability of the Flyers fan mentioning the hit by Scott Stevens on Eric Lindros approaches 1.
Regardless of topic at hand, it will inevitability be brought up at some point. It does sometimes have bearing on the discussion at hand, but more often than not it is brought up under one of the following conditions:
From out of nowhere with no warning or lead-in anywhere in the conversation (The Bitterness Corollary)
From any mention of Scott Stevens in any way, shape or form (The I Wish That Guy Had Played On Our Team Corollary)
From any mention that Flyers players are goons and/or dirty (The I Can’t Prove You Wrong So I’ll Try to Drag Your Team Down to Our Level Corollary)
To deflect criticism of any suspect/apparently dirty action by a Flyers player (The It’s Okay Because Scott Stevens Was Dirty, Too, Even Though He Was Never Punished For His Supposed Dirtiness Corollary)
- User R_Adragna is nasty, brutish, and short when it comes to the Flyers:
They’re all about the thuggish image. Everyone, from the GM right down to the fans, believe that the ugly logo on their jerseys believe it’s a license to act like a thug and beat people up. Also, the endless touting of players as like they happen to be the second coming of Jesus (see Eric Lindros, Mike Richards).
Teams that aren't Big Rivals but Devils Fans Don't Particularly Care For
[This is for the non-big 2 rivals, but if you provide enough reasons for hatred, I can bump a team up into their own section. I did go into some reason why they aren't Big Rivals]
The New York Islanders
Why Devils Fans Don't Care for Them: Divisional opponents, seemingly have the team's number in recent seasons, local opponents like the Rangers and Flyers.
Why Devils Fans Don't Have a Passionate Hatred for Them: They haven't been all that good in recent years.
More reasons from the fanbase:
- User FrankG29 wanted to include this clarification:
Icelanders: I would change your final statement from "They haven’t been all that good in recent years" to "And they really do suck."
- User Devilman3030 also isn't a fan of their fans, but not necessarily the organization:
I can say there are few times I've clashed with Islanders fans. Although, I do have things to add: 1) They love to mock Marty for the wife-sister marriage; 2) Talking huge amounts of smack after a win and becoming obnoxious to boot; 3) At Devils game at Nassau Coliseum games I love it when the guy wearing a "Gordon Fishermans jersey" talks smack about the Devs. Not a whole lot since i do have a lot of respect for the team and what they have achieved in the past.
The Pittsburgh Penguins
Why Devils Fans Don't Care for Them: Divisional opponents, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, have had more recent success, and they are a good team now.
Why Devils Fans Don't Have a Passionate Hatred for Them: They aren't local and for some reason I can't put my finger on, there's more begrudging respect than hatred.
More reasons from the fanbase:
- User C.J.Richey121 explains that there's potential but needs a playoff series to really charge it:
Lately the rivalry is basically the Pens fans don’t like the Devils because of the "trap" and the Devils fans don’t like the Penguins because of Crosby and the arrogant/cocky fans. I think a good playoff series could easily heat up the rivalry. Right now Devils fans and Pens fans don’t really have a reason to hate each other though, unless you are like me and have tons of friends that are Pens fans.
- User elesias has a few reasons why he definitely doesn't like Pittsburgh:
One word: Over-saturation. Count me as one of the many tired of hearing about how great Sidney Crosby is and about the team as a whole. I get marketing and I know about growing the brand, but I’m awfully tired of their having to be involved in just about every nationally broadcast game and how sites like NHL.com will have stories up within seconds if Crosby so much as picks his nose.
Malkin is one of the ugliest human beings I’ve ever seen. Mouth-breather.
Marc-Andre Fleury and many other players on the team aren’t nearly as good as most media outlets would have everyone believe.
Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.
- User R_Adragna adds this about Sidney Crosby:
Also, Crosby dives and whines.
The Carolina Hurricanes
Why Devils Fans Don't Care for Them: Playoff losses to the Hurricanes, the 2009 first round, another team that they seemingly have the Devils number more often than not.
Why Devils Fans Don't Have a Passionate Hatred for Them: Not in the same division and quite frankly, they alternate between being decent and downright awful.
More reasons from the fanbase:
- User elesias brings out a few reasons to dislike the team with the jagged "O" on their jersey:
Game 7 [Ed. Note: of the 2009 first round]
Eric Staal’s physical appearance has always bothered me and it was only recently that I figured out why. He’s a pinhead. It’s probably just his pads, but his head always appears to be terribly disproportionate to the rest of his body.
I think it was against Carolina in the playoffs on their run to the Cup in 2006 when Brind’amour had been using his patented turned body face-off tactic (which I thought should have gotten him kicked from the dot) to great effect all series, and on a crucial center ice face-off against Madden with the Devils down by one and Marty pulled, Rod let Madden win so cleanly he scored on his own goal.
The Toronto Maple Leafs
Why Devils Fans Don't Care for Them: Tie Domi elbowing Scott Niedermayer in Game 6 in the second round of the 2001 Playoffs, which had pretty much had a huge impact on the Devils not going back-to-back as Stanley Cup champions. Also, they're pretty much the Rangers of Canada.
Why Devils Fans Don't Have a Passionate Hatred for Them: Not local and they've been Islanders-esque in terms of success to warrant much attention.
More reasons from the fanbase:
- User Space Weed, who's local to Toronto or knows plenty of Leafs fans, has this to add:
For the Leafs, i’d like to add alot of their fans constantly make fun of New Jersey and Newark, saying it smells AND the fact that they constantly use "Martin Brodeur is Fat" jokes which Rangers fans use.
- User elesias offers multiple reasons for beefs for Toronto:
Their team name contains a grammatical error
Tie Domi, for obvious reasons
Darcy Tucker and Mats Sundin, just because I don’t like them and never have.
The incessant coverage of what has been a consistently mediocre to bad team for as long as I can remember
- User R_Adragna has a quick take, one that I agree with 100%:
What can I say, really? They’re the Rangers of Canada. Also, because of Tie Domi.
If you have any more reasons why the Devils don't like these teams or any other questions, please e-mail me.