LA Kings vs. San Jose Sharks is Officially A Rivalry

1 of 2

The time has come to throw the nonesense about the Freeway Faceoff out the window, as the true rivals of the Los Angeles Kings are the San Jose Sharks. Rivalries are built both on the ice and in the stands, and with the Kings and Sharks having played so many intense games over the last 15 months, including a dramatic playoff series, it’s safe to say that there is no one else the Kings themselves would declare as rivals, than the San Jose Sharks.

The teams came into the Tuesday night’s affair tangled up just outside the playoff picture in the Western Conference, with three gigantic games between the teams to surely decide their respective fates. As for round one, consider it a successful royal opportunity for the Kings to push themselves to the brink of first place in the Pacific Division, as their 5-2 win put them just one point behind Dallas with nine games remaining.

With the division tighter than even last year, the top four teams are all within three points of each other, and the Kings may now be the odds on favorite to win their first ever Pacific crown. The Kings, winners of five straight and eight of ten, are playing their best hockey of the season and have wholeheartedly bought into Darryl Sutter’s system in an attempt to sink the Sharks’ dominance in the division. A dominance that’s set the tone for the Kings’ run at the Sharks, both in the standings and the formation of a prolong quarrel.

The Kings have played in the NHL for 45 years, and oddly enough, it might have taken all 45 to find a true rival, on and off the ice. The Kings and Oilers had their fair share of hate back in the 80’s, but the cities of Edmonton and Los Angeles never completely bought into the rivalry at the same time. Kings fans hated the Oilers back when bench clearing brawls at the Forum featured Wayne Gretzky in a blue and orange jersey, resting along the boards as fans berated the star with boos. As for Edmonton, well, they didn’t start to hate the Kings, Los Angeles and everything the stereotypes of the city stand for, until August 9, 1988, which was ironically the same day the Kings-Oilers rivalry ended for fans at the Forum. Since then and over the last decade, the Kings have seen an on-ice duel with Colorado come and go, only to be taken over by a fabricated feud with Anaheim. But now, more than 20 years since the Sharks first toed the ice, the Kings-Sharks rivalry is in full effect.

What makes the Kings-Sharks rivalry more of a menacing bout than the Kings and Ducks? It’s simple. The Kings and Sharks have met in the playoffs and the epic struggle between Southern Californians and their northern counterparts far outweigh the petty squabbles of LA County and Orange County. Think of it this way, LA and the Bay Area is akin to the Montagues and the Capulets, while LA and the OC is closer to a rift between characters Desperate Housewives. Throw in sports connotations of the Dodgers-Giants and it’s easy to see why the Kings and Sharks make such natural rivals off the ice.