Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 5/9/12
Which team is the Coyotes arch-rival? Ask six people and youll get six different answers. Its really hard to say, Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. It seems to change over the years. Some will tell you its Detroit because of playoff series matchups the past two seasons. Not so. A rivalry is played on a two-way street. The Red Wings dont consider the Coyotes their rival. That distinction belongs, and always will belong to the Chicago Blackhawks. Some will tell you its Chicago based on the large number of Windy City transplants in the Valley and the bad blood between the clubs from suspension-earning hits by Andrew Shaw and Raffi Torres this postseason. But again, when the Blackhawks see red, its Red Wings red. The Coyotes arent even in their top five rivals. Some will tell you its the Sharks, but when we think of San Jose, we just get confused: Its not San Francisco. Its not even Oakland, and its definitely too far away. All we hear are Dion Warwick lyrics. When we think of Anaheim we think Disney on ice. Sequins, tutus, white skates and Ducks dont get the blood boiling. There are only two real possibilities: Dallas and Los Angeles. In our opinion, the five key factors in a rivalry are: proximity, playing in the same division, playoff history, bad blood and a history of hatred in other sports. Any city that houses the Cowboys warrants a healthy dose of bile, but Dallas is too far away, and the Stars and Coyotes have zero playoff history. By contrast, Los Angeles gets a check mark in four of the five key areas, with the one missing ingredient, playoff history, about to be written. Any time you can play a playoff series against a division team, it certainly ramps up that rivalry, Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. Its even better when its in the conference finals. Los Angeles and Phoenix actually have some forgotten hockey history. From 1990-97, the Phoenix Roadrunners were the Kings International Hockey League affiliate. Coyotes radio play-by-play man Bob Heethuis held the same post with the Runners from 1992-97. The Kings used to play a preseason game in the Valley. That fact, coupled with all the Roadrunners who went on to play for Kings and L.A.s run to the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals made this a Kings town before the Coyotes arrived in 1996. If that doesnt turn your stomach, here are five more reasons why the Kings should be the Coyotes biggest rival. 1. Size matters: Its the nations sixth largest city against the nations second largest city. This is America. Big is always better, right? 2. Kobe Bryant: Hes already admitted he hates Phoenix. He plays for the hated and far more successful Lakers. He plays at Staples Center. Thats good enough for us. 3. Dustin Browns nasty hit on Coyotes defenseman Rusty Klesla in February: The blow knocked Klesla out of the lineup for a stretch. Hockey folks will privately tell you it was a clean hit, but what fun is that when youre ramping up a rivalry? Besides, the hit spawned four fights, including one between Doan and Brown. Thats bad blood. 4. Cantankerous Kings coach Darryl Sutter: Sutter doesnt hate us as much he hates the press in Calgary, his former workplace, but hes no joy to interview. Sutters permanent facial expression makes you wonder if he just ate a lemon. A whole lemon. 5. Wayne Gretzky: He did a lot for the Kings; he did a lot to the Coyotes.
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