Okay, I have a confession to make. Maybe it's sacriligeous for a Habs fan to say, but I've never really, truly hated the Boston Bruins. They've been tough over the years, even mean. But there's an honesty about the Bruins' workmanlike approach to the game that you have to admire on some level. They come right out and say, yeah, we're going to grind you into the boards and we won't ever let up. Then they go out and do exactly that. But they do it on the up-and-up...no cheapness about it. (I'm calling Kyle McLaren's hit on Richard Zednik an aberration, because McLaren was a cheap shit and not worthy of being a Bruin.) I've always enjoyed the Bruins/Habs rivalry. There are so many franchise-defining moments wrapped up in that competition.
The Philadelphia Flyers, on the other hand...them, I hate. There's really so very little to like about them. They're the team that tried to drag hockey down into the mud with their goonery and intimidation. Without the intervention of the powerhouse Habs thirty years ago, the Flyers' "style" would have become the norm. I hate that they're still cheap, with all their violence and suspensions this year. I hate that they're keeping a loose cannon like Steve Downie on the roster. The Bruins knew Saku Koivu's foot is broken, but they refrained from deliberately slashing the injury. We can pretty much guarantee the Flyers and Downie won't be so decent, especially if they happen to be losing.
I'm not a Daniel Briere fan, and I didn't want Gainey to sign him in Montreal for outrageous sums of money. In fact, I was very worried that the offer was on the table and very relieved when he went to Philly instead. I think that worked out just fine for Montreal, which finished in a better position than the Flyers and still has that money in the bank as well. However, I hate that Briere said he chose Philly because he had a better chance of winning with them. Come on...there is such a thing as diplomacy. You might think you'll go all the way with the Flyers, but you say Philly is a better fit for your family, or you wanted to go play with your buddy Biron, or some such benign reason for choosing the way you did. But to say you think the team you rejected is a loser? That tastes bad and earns you some hate.
I hate their ugly orange uniforms and their pseudo-tough attitude. I hate Bobby Clarke and his fake teeth, hiding the gaping psycho grin underneath, and I hate his continued association with that franchise. I hate their nasty fans and their video of Kate Smith. I hate the way they got into the second round, with their lousy goalie-interference goal after Huet was bowled out of the net. I hate their history of Hextall and Schultz. I hate Scott Hartnell's cheap shots and the space between Briere's eyes that makes him look like a bird. I hate their bravado and their rotten cheesesteaks. I hate how they'll gloat if they win a game or two.
Oh yeah, I hate the Flyers. I want the Habs to take them apart, in the epic good-versus-evil showdown this series will become. Bring it on!