Rivalries in the National Hockey League have occurred between many teams and cities. Rivalries have arisen for many different reasons, the primary ones include geographic proximity, familiarity with opponents, violence or other incidents, and cultural, linguistic, or national pride.
The importance of these various factors has varied widely throughout the history of the league.
During the earliest days of the NHL, the league was limited strictly to Central Canada, and all cities in the league were in close proximity, which made for bitter rivalries all around. As well Montreal had two teams representing that city's English-French divide, the "French" Canadiens battled the "English" Wanderers, and later the Maroons. Rivalries also existed with other leagues such as the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. It was not until 1926 that the NHL took over sole ownership of hockey's top trophy, the Stanley Cup. By that time, the NHL had begun expanding to the US (Detroit, Chicago, New York and Boston), and new rivalries were created. Rapid expansion to the US for a short time created a cross-town rivalry in New York City, between the Rangers and the Americans. The economic turmoil of the Great Depression and the Second World War forced several teams to fold, so that in 1942 there were only six teams remaining.
For all information about this topic please see Original Six From 1942 to 1967 only six teams played in the NHL. With so few opponents, teams played more frequently, and games were often underscored by personal rivalries between players. These personal and team rivalries persisted for many years as the turnover rate on NHL rosters was very low. At one point or another during this era all the teams had animosity towards one another. The strongest rivalries were:
The rivalry between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens is the oldest and most bitter rivalry in the history of the National Hockey League. From 1944 to 1978, the two teams met each other in the playoffs 12 times, and faced off in five Stanley Cup Finals. While the on-ice competition is fierce, the Maple Leafs-Habs rivalry is actually symbolic of a much deeper cleavage in Canadian history and society — that between English- and French-Canadians.
When the NHL was created in 1917, these differences received the opportunity to play themselves out in a rivalry between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. The Maple Leafs' fanbase consisted mainly of English-speaking Canadians of British descent; in fact, the team's logo was in essence a stylized version of the Canadian Army's Cap Badge Insignia during World War I. This held particular significance for Leaf owner Conn Smythe, who had served as an artillery officer during the Great War. As late as the 1970s, a portrait of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, was hung in the Leafs' home arena, Maple Leaf Gardens, and God Save the Queen was sung as an anthem before the game (the former practice was famously discontinued by the team's owner at the time, Harold Ballard, who asked, "The Queen doesn't pay anything to get in, does she?"). The Canadiens, meanwhile, captured the imaginations of French-speaking fans, mainly concentrated in the province of Quebec. In stark contrast to the anthem practice in Toronto, the Habs pioneered the use of the current Canadian national anthem, "O Canada," at the Montreal Forum.
While certainly heated during the 1940s and 1950s, the Leafs-Habs rivalry was particularly acute during the 1960s, one of the two teams would capture the Stanley Cup each year in the decade, with the exceptions of 1961 and 1970. The rivalry perhaps reached its zenith in the 1967 season, when both teams met in the Stanley Cup finals during the centennial year of Canadian Confederation. Montreal was hosting Expo 67 that year and the Canadiens were expected to beat the Leafs quite handily. Still, underdog Toronto upset the Habs to capture the Cup.
After 1967, the rivalry cooled slightly due to NHL expansion and realignment. The fanbases of both teams began to erode somewhat: new franchises in Vancouver (the Canucks), Calgary (the Flames), Edmonton (the Oilers) and Winnipeg (the Jets) captured the allegiances of English-speaking fans in Western Canada, while the Quebec Nordiques competed with the Canadiens for the loyalties of Francophone fans within Quebec from 1979 to 1995. From 1981 to 1998, Toronto and Montreal were in opposite conferences and the Maple Leafs in the Clarence Campbell/Western Conference and the Canadiens in the Prince of Wales/Eastern Conference. The fortunes of the two teams since 1967 have also seen a marked difference. The Habs have won ten Stanley Cup championships since that year, while the Maple Leafs still have yet to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. Toronto came close to reaching the Finals in 1993, where they would have faced the Wales Conference champion Habs in the 100th anniversary year of the Stanley Cup. However, they were narrowly defeated in the Campbell Conference Finals by the Los Angeles Kings.
In 1998, the Leafs moved into the Eastern Conference's Northeast Division, along with the Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, and Boston Bruins. This has served to rekindle the rivalry somewhat, although the two teams have yet to appear in a playoff series against each other.
The teams faced off in what was each team's final game of the 2007 regular season, on April 7, 2007. Coming into the game, the two teams were separated by one point, with the Canadiens sitting in 8th place in the East: if Montreal were to win it, they would secure a playoff spot; if Toronto were to win it in regulation time, they would capture 8th place (though a playoff spot would be dependent on the final game of the season for the New York Islanders). The game was heavily hyped during the weeks leading up to it; it was arguably the most important game between the two teams since the 1980s. In the end, the Maple Leafs emerged victorious, thus eliminating the Habs from the playoffs and pushing them down to 10th. But when the Isles beat the New Jersey Devils the following afternoon, the Leafs were shunted into 9th place and also missed the playoffs.
The Bruins-Canadiens Rivalry is a rivalry in the National Hockey League between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens, two teams that are considered a part of the Original Six. It is considered one of the most bitter in the NHL, particularly by Bruins fans, and especially as the Bruins and Canadiens have played each other more times than any other two currently existing teams in NHL history. The rivalry is considerably one-sided, with the Canadiens winning 23/30 of their head-to-head playoff series' and all 7 of the finals series', but the Bruins have gotten some memorable wins in. As of the start of the 2007-08 NHL season, the Bruins have won just over 255 of these matches, with the Canadiens winning over 320 of them, with 105 other games between the two teams ending in ties, going back all the way to the Bruins' first NHL season of 1924-25.
In the 1950s, the Canadiens would defeat the Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals three times. Also, during the 1952 playoff semi-finals, Maurice Richard was knocked out in the seventh game but returned to score the series-winning goal. One of the most famous NHL photos is the one of Richard and Bruins goaltender "Sugar" Jim Henry shaking hands after the conclusion of the series; Richard has a cut above his eyebrow while Henry has a black eye.
On March 13, 1955, Rocket Richard was given a match penalty and suspended for the remainder of the season for deliberately injuring Hal Laycoe, in a game against the Bruins. Laycoe had moments earlier high-sticked Richard in the head but no penalty was called. When Richard saw blood, he skated at Laycoe, who dropped his gloves to fight. The incident was exacerbated by Richard repeatedly breaking away to attack Laycoe with hockey sticks, and then assaulting linesman Cliff Thompson who attempted to restrain him. The suspension prevented Montreal from winning the Stanley Cup, finishing first and personally cost Richard the league scoring title. It went to Habs teammate Bernie Geoffrion (better known as "Boom Boom" Geoffrion for his powerful slap shot), who was booed by the Montreal faithful when he passed Richard for the point lead on the last day. Geoffrion had struggled just to gain recognition of his considerable talents, as Gordie Howe, Andy Bathgate and Richard were some of the most outstanding players in the 1950s in the NHL.
While the teams played each other often, the teams became truly pronounced rivals in the 1970s, when both were yearly contenders. In 1971, despite the Bruins finishing first in the league and shattering many NHL scoring records, they lost in the first round to the Canadiens in seven games; the pivotal moment was game two when the Bruins squandered a 5-1 lead to lose 7-5. This ended a potential Bruins dynasty, although they would win the Stanley Cup the following season. Don Cherry's "Lunch Pail Gang" in 1977 and 1978 would lose both finals to the Habs. Canadiens fans remember the rough tactics that Cherry's players used against Guy Lafleur, whose head was swathed in bandages at the end of the 1978 series after repeated highsticking from Bruins players.
The seminal moment in the history of the rivalry was probably Game 7 of the 1979 Semi-Finals (the terms Wales/Campbell Conference Finals was in use during 1982-93 NHL playoffs). After a rough and tumble series which saw both sides win at home through the first six games, in Game 7 in Montreal the Bruins were ahead in the closing four minutes thanks to a goal by Rick Middleton which Ken Dryden would later remark as "the most beautiful goal" that he ever let in.
However, after the Boston bench was charged with a minor penalty for having seven players on the ice, Lafleur scored the tying goal on the ensuing power play, and Montreal's Yvon Lambert won it in overtime. The win allowed Montreal to advance to the Stanley Cup finals, wherein they won for the fourth consecutive year.
The rivalry continued throughout the 1980s, mainly due to a division-oriented playoff format that seemed to pair the teams every year. In 1988, the Bruins finally won a playoff series against Canadiens in the latter's Montreal Forum on the way to advancing to the Stanley Cup Final, which was the last Stanley Cup Finals at the Boston Garden. The next year, the Canadiens beat the Bruins on their trip to the finals. In 1990, the Bruins finished off the Canadiens for the first time in the Boston Garden since 1943 and would also win the 1991 and 1992 playoff match-ups against the Canadiens, the last one being a 4-0 sweep. Part of the Bruins' victories over the Canadiens was due to goaltender Andy Moog who was, after, known as the "greatest Hab killer" that the Bruins ever had. Ironically, Moog signed with the Canadiens for the 1997-98 season and helped them to their first playoff series win in several seasons.
In 1994, the Canadiens were the defending champions but they were knocked out in the first round by the Bruins. Nonetheless, that seven-game series was notable in the eyes of Montreal fans as superstar net minder Patrick Roy came down with appendicitis and missed game three. Roy convinced doctors to let him return for Game Four and led the Canadiens to a 5-2 victory, stopping 39 shots.
The Bruins were defeated in both the 2002 and the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the first round by the Canadiens, despite the Bruins being seeded higher, which contributed to the animosity. The first time the Bruins finished first in the Eastern Conference, and the second time, Beantown was second in the East.
The New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, and New York Rangers had been together since being part of the Patrick Division in 1982, developing a strong rivalry with each other. With the renaming of the Patrick Division to the Atlantic Division in 1994, minus the Penguins (they were moved to the Northeast Division until 1998), that their rivalries had become established and historic in its own way starting with the Rangers/Devils Game 7 match in the Eastern Conference Finals. With the realignment in 1998 the Devils, Flyers, Islanders, and Rangers remained together in the Atlantic Division with the Pittsburgh Penguins returning to the group. In the post-lockout NHL, the Atlantic Division rivalries have become more intense with season-ending comebacks, shrewd trades, and more games played against each other during the regular season. This is the only division in the NHL where all its members has won the Stanley Cup at least twice in their own franchises existence.
The strongest rivalries are:
The Battle of Alberta is the bitter rivalry between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League. The 2 teams are based in the cities of Edmonton, the provincial capital of Alberta and Calgary, the province's largest city.
The rivalry was at its most intense in the 1980's, when the two teams combined to win 6 Stanley Cups in 12 years, 5 of them to the Oilers. This showdown featured many top players of the time, including Wayne Gretzky, Doug Gilmour, Mike Vernon, Lanny McDonald and Grant Fuhr. During the 1990's neither team had much success, leading to a lessening of the feud. When each team advanced to the Cup Finals in subsequent years, 2004 and 2006 due to the NHL Lockout, the rivalry began to become more heated once again.
The rivalry between Ottawa and Toronto is popular and often surfaces during the playoffs, as the two teams are in the same division (the Northeast) and have repeatedly met in the postseason. It is often referred to as the Battle of Ontario. The major catalyst for this rivalry is the fact that both cities' roles to Canada are vital: Ottawa is the nation's capital and Toronto is Canada's overall largest city (in addition to being Ontario's provincial capital).
Games between Ottawa and Toronto ice hockey teams date back before the founding of the NHL and both teams are founding teams of the NHL. Both cities, along with Montreal, have histories of Stanley Cup winners. Teams from Ottawa and Toronto once met in a series for the Stanley Cup in February, 1904, with the Ottawa Silver Seven defeating the Toronto Marlboros. After the original Ottawa NHL franchise folded, Ottawa-area hockey fans became fans of either the Montreal Canadiens or the Maple Leafs.
The modern Senators entered the league in 1992, but the rivalry between the two teams did not begin to emerge until the late 1990s. From 1992 to 1998, Toronto was in the NHL's Clarence Campbell/Western Conference and Ottawa was in the Prince of Wales/Eastern, which meant that the two teams rarely played each other. But before the 1998-99 season, the conferences and divisions were re-aligned, and Toronto was moved into the Eastern Conference's Northeast Division with Ottawa and the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres.
By 1999, both Ottawa and Toronto were elite Eastern Conference teams, annually competing for the division title. Not all Leafs fans in the Ottawa area became Senators fans upon the revival of the Ottawa NHL franchise. This has resulted in a base of Maple Leafs fans who attend Leafs-Senators games in Ottawa.
In 2000, the teams met for the first time in the playoffs, with the Maple Leafs (Northeast Division top-offs that year) dispatching the Senators in six games. Some Leafs fans saw this as revenge, since the Sens' Marián Hossa had accidentally clipped the Leafs' Bryan Berard in the eye on March 11, thereby ending the young rearguard's season and almost his career. Berard forgave Hossa, but no Leaf fan wanted to do so.
The next season, they met again in the first round as Ottawa entered the playoffs ranked 2nd in the East and the Maple Leafs 7th. While the Senators were expected to defeat the Maple Leafs, especially since they had swept the regular season series against them, the Leafs swept the series in a major upset instead; Ottawa did not score their first goal of the series until 16:51 of the third period in the third game. It was after this series that the rivalry became more pronounced, especially in the eyes of Senators fans.
In 2002, the teams met in the playoffs for the third straight year. The two teams were very evenly matched, and the Maple Leafs, despite missing several key players, managed to win the second-round series in the full seven games and advance to the conference finals. One incident happened late in Game Five when Sens' captain Daniel Alfredsson hit forward Darcy Tucker in what Toronto called a hit-from-behind, and then seconds after hitting Tucker in the Leafs zone, he scored the game-winning goal. Tucker suffered an injury on the play, and Alfredsson was not penalized or suspended for it. This began the ongoing TO fans' booing of Alfredsson. Tucker had gotten his share of hatred in the first round against the New York Islanders when he wasn't penalized for a hit that dislocated the right knee of the Isles' Michael Peca. That play, despite no punishment for Tucker, was still included in a video of "unacceptable plays" that the NHL sent to all its teams.
In 2003, the rivalry hit an all-time high when Tucker attacked the Senators' Chris Neil, who was sitting on the bench. Neil started punching Tucker back; Tucker then attacked Shane Hnidy, but Hnidy started beating on Tucker as well. This resulted in numerous players exchanging punches before order was restored. Tucker, Neil and Hnidy all received fighting majors and game misconducts for the same incident. After the game Tucker claimed Neil spit on him, an allegation which Neil denies. The NHL board looked into this claim and concluded Neil did not do this. Tempers remained frayed, especially with 1:23 to play, when Toronto's Tie Domi jumped Magnus Arvedson from behind and threw several punches at Arvedson. Domi received a roughing minor, instigator minor, fighting major, misconduct and game misconduct. Arvedson did not get a penalty on the play. The suspensions were announced a few hours after Tucker and Domi appeared at NHL head offices in Toronto for a hearing. Tucker was suspended for five games, without pay, and it was made clear at the hearing that Neil didn't spit at Toronto's bench. Domi was suspended for three games, also without pay. A total of 163 minutes in penalties were called in the game. The Maple Leafs went on to win the series but the Sens still topped off the NHL.  
Earlier that same season, Ottawa tough-guy Rob Ray, as if hoping to add to Tucker's troubles just before the latter was suspended, said in Sports Illustrated (referring to the Tucker-Peca incident), "That was crap, not fining him, not suspending him, sending out the tape saying this can't happen. Why didn't they do anything when this happened?!?!?"
Another incident in the regular season fueled the rivalry even more. On January 6, 2004, the Maple Leafs were playing a game against the Nashville Predators, when Leaf captain Mats Sundin's stick broke on an attempted shot at the blue line and he threw it away in disgust. Instead of hitting the glass, the stick went over and into the crowd. The NHL reacted by giving him a one-game suspension. The game he was suspended for was a game against the Senators in Toronto. During the game, Daniel Alfredsson's stick broke, and immediately he faked a toss of his stick into the stands. This caused an uproar with the Maple Leafs, in part because they had also lost the game badly, by a score of 7-1. Alfredsson dismissed the Leafs' reaction, calling it an over-reaction. This incident added to the rivalry, and Leafs fans continue to boo Alfredsson at games in both Toronto and Ottawa.
Ottawa and Toronto matched up in the playoffs for the fourth time in five years in 2004. Alfredsson guaranteed a victory after the Leafs took game 5. He delivered on his promise in game 6, but the Sens turned in a lacklustre performance in the series finale. As was the case each time prior, the Leafs beat the Senators in the series, but many observers thought that Ottawa outplayed Toronto, and gave credit for Toronto's win to an exceptional performance by Leaf goaltender Ed Belfour, who shut out the Senators three times. The Senators goalie Patrick Lalime was traded to the St. Louis Blues after the NHL lockout. Ottawa coach Jacques Martin was fired after the series.
In 2005-06, the two teams nearly met again, but the Maple Leafs missed the playoffs by two points, while the Senators clinched the top spot in the East. The Sens largely dominated the season series by winning 7 of the 8 games (including 3 routs of 8-0, 8-2, and 7-0) which may have been the main catalyst for the Leafs. Ottawa TV station CJOH even called it "The Public Beating of Ontario".
In 2006-07, the Leafs nearly qualified, but again failed to qualify for the playoffs. The Senators made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. As this was the third Finals in a row where a Canadian team had made the Finals, the Senators marketing team was hoping to build support. However, television ratings for the Playoffs in the Toronto area was down, compared to 2006 when the Edmonton Oilers were in the Finals.
In a survey released by the Canadian Press in May 2007, 47% of Ontario hockey fans listed the Leafs as their favourite team, compared to 22% for the Ottawa Senators, despite Eastern Ontario (where Ottawa's fan base is) only making up less than 10% of the population of Ontario.
The groundwork for the rivalry between the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings was laid well before Denver even had a NHL franchise, during games between Detroit and the Quebec Nordiques. Once the Nordiques moved to Denver, the small rivalry still existed. On their way to a Stanley Cup, the Avalanche were forced to face Detroit in the 1996 Western Conference Finals.
During Game 6, Claude Lemieux, checked Kris Draper into the boards as Draper was leaving the ice and Draper was severely injured. He suffered a broken jaw, broken nose, shattered cheek and orbital bone. Draper's injuries were severe enough to require reconstructive surgery and his jaw was wired shut for five weeks. After the traditional handshakes that take place after a playoff series, many of Draper's teammates were shocked at the severity of his injuries and were furious at Lemieux for inflicting them. Former Red Wing winger Dino Ciccarelli said of Lemieux, "I can't believe I shook the guy's frigging hand." During postgame interviews, Claude Lemieux, when informed that Draper's injuries appeared to be severe, stated, "Nobody wants to see a player get injured. I didn't try to hurt him, and I'm sorry he's hurt." Following the game, a heated exchange allegedly took place between Scotty Bowman, Detroit's head coach and Lemieux, while Lemieux was walking with his wife and young son, ironically named after friend and former teammate, Brendan Shanahan, who currently played for the Detroit Red Wings.
Although the two teams played without incident on three occasions during the next regular season, their final matchup on March 26, 1996 resulted in what's known as the "Brawl in Hockeytown." Kirk Maltby, Rene Corbet, Brent Severyn and Jamie Pushor were involved in altercations in the first period, ingniting tension between the rivals. At the 18:22 mark, a brawl started when Igor Larionov and Peter Forsberg collided on ice. Darren McCarty, who filled the role of enforcer for the Red Wings ended up breaking free from the grasp of a linesman and pursued Lemieux. Lemieux fell to the ice and turtled, but McCarty continued to avenge his Grind Line teammate, landing several blows and driving a knee to Lemieux's head, before they were separated by officials. The fight ended with winners on both sides. Uwe Krupp bested Jamie Pushor, Mike Vernon sent Patrick Roy to the bench with a cut over his right eye, although Roy landed more punches. Igor Larionov sent Peter Forsberg to the bench for the rest of the game by aggrivating a previous injury. The Shanahan/Foote ended in a draw, with both players remaining on their feet until the brawl died down. The ice was stained with blood, before it was resurfaced and the game continued.
During the next season, Joe Louis Arena was the site of another Red Wings/ Avalanche brawl, featuring a fight between goaltenders Patrick Roy and Chris Osgood, as well as another matchup between Darren McCarty and Claude Lemieux. This altercation resulted in more severe penalties, earning both goalies minor, major, misconduct, and game misconduct penalties.
In recent seasons, the rivalry has died down, largely due to the fact that many of the key players on both teams either retired, or are playing for other teams. However, in a much smaller brawl in 2002, veteran goaltender Dominik Hasek attempted to engage Patrick Roy in a fight, but tripped on a piece of equipment. Roy seemed ready to fight a third Red Wings goaltender, but the pair were restrained by officials.
Not unlike the Major League Baseball rivalry between the Cardinals and the Cubs, the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues share an intense hatred of each other. Separated by 300 miles and at one time owned by the same man (Arthur Wirtz, who had a stake in the St. Louis Arena, where the 'Hawks farm club, the St. Louis Braves, played before the Blues entered the NHL in 1967), the clubs have been in the same division (Western 1970-74, Smythe 1974-81, Norris 1981-93, Central 1993-present) since 1970. The matchups reached their zenith in the early '90s, when both teams had well-known stars such as Denis Savard, Chris Chelios and Ed Belfour for the Hawks and Brett Hull, Adam Oates and Curtis Joseph for the Blues and played in old arenas (St. Louis Arena and Chicago Stadium) that were regarded as two of the loudest in the league.
Possibly the greatest moment in the rivalry was the 1993 Norris Division Semifinal: Chicago had won the division handily but were swept by the Blues, winning the series on an overtime goal. Belfour, who said he had been interfered with on the goal by Hull, went on to cause thousands of dollars' worth of damage to the visiting locker room at the Arena, breaking a coffeemaker, hot tub and television among other objects. To this day Belfour refuses to appear in regular-season games in St. Louis: the only exception coming in 1999 when he replaced Roman Turek for the Dallas Stars in the 3rd period of a 4-4 game, and only after Turek had allowed four unanswered goals. When he was spotted skating onto the ice, the Savvis Center crowd greeted him with the "Bellll-foooour" chant, first popularized in the '93 series. Ironically, Hull and "The Eagle" were Dallas teammates in 1998-99, and both critical in the Stars' narrow Cup win that summer, which came at the expense of the Buffalo Sabres and Belfour's former teammate Dominik Hašek.
Although the Hawks have had a large string of bad fortune under Craig Hartsburg, Dirk Graham and Bob Pulford, keeping them out of the playoffs in recent years, whilst the Blues had made the playoffs for 25 successive years (a streak ending with the 2005-2006 season), the Blues and Blackhawks did meet in the 2002 Western Conference Quarterfinals. The Blues won that series 4 games to 1.
Although there is no enmity between the city of Los Angeles and adjacent Orange County, California, the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks share an on-ice rivalry due to sheer geographic proximity. The two teams are situated in the same metropolitan area, and share a television market. The rivalry started with the Ducks' inaugural season in 1993-94, and has since continued.
The Kings last made an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in the 1992-93 season, but have popped back into the playoff picture on four different seasons. The Ducks since their inauguration have made the playoffs five times. As of 2006-07, the Kings and Ducks have never met in the playoffs, nor made the playoffs in the same year. Since 2003, the Ducks recent success in the playoffs, topped with the winning of the Stanley Cup in 2006-2007 has bolstered and solidified the loyalty of Anaheim's fan base, but the Kings fan base still remains intact with loyal fans.
During regular season (and, to some extent, pre-season) games, Kings fans arrive at the Honda Center in numbers for away games against the Ducks, and vice-versa for Ducks fans at Staples Center, causing any goal by either team to be celebrated just as loud as if the home team scored. Chants in favor of either teams are common. Games between the Southern California crosstown-rivals are often very physical and fight-filled. The rivalry was showcased for the NHL Premier in London at the start of the 2007-08 NHL Season with two games between the teams.
The rivalry between the Edmonton Oilers and the Los Angeles Kings began more or less the instant the Oilers began playing in the NHL in the 1979-80 NHL season. Among the first year Oilers' players included a young Wayne Gretzky, who instantly challenged for the Art Ross Trophy against the Kings' Marcel Dionne. In the end, Gretzky and Dionne were both tied with 137 points, but the award was given to Dionne, who had two more goals (53 vs. Gretzky's 51). It should also be noted that Gretzky played 79 games to Dionne's full count of 80. Gretzky remarked during a press conference at which the scoring title was awarded to Dionne that he had been taught "that an assist was good as a goal".
The two teams would not meet in the playoffs until the 1981-82 NHL season. That season, Gretzky shattered the NHL record books with points in a season with 212 (92 goals and 120 assists). The Oilers also jumped to the top of their division despite playing in their third NHL season and had the third best record in the league. The Kings, after a fairly impressive 1980-81 season, slumped to having the fifth worst record in the 21 team NHL. They only made the playoffs, being fourth in the same division as the Oilers, because the Colorado Rockies had an even worse record in their last season there. This set the stage for the top-seeded, heavily-favored Oilers to meet in the first round against the Kings. After a two-game split in Edmonton, Game 3 in Los Angeles began with a commanding Oilers 5-0 lead after two periods. But in a miraculous comeback, the Kings managed to tie the game 5-5 in the third period, scoring the tying goal with 5 seconds left on a two-man advantage. The Kings would later win the game 6-5 in overtime. This game is often referred to as the Miracle on Manchester. The Oilers struck back in Game 4 to send the series back to Edmonton for the deciding game in a best of five series. However, it was the Kings who upset the Oilers and advanced to the next round.
For the next two seasons, the Kings would miss the playoffs completely while the Oilers competed in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1983 and won their first Stanley Cup in 1984. Both finals were played against the dynasty New York Islanders. The two teams finally met again in 1985, but this time the Oilers defeated the Kings in three straight games. The Oilers would go on to win their second straight Stanley Cup. They met again in 1987 under a new best of seven playoff format for the first round, and again the Oilers would win, this time in five games, and again the Oilers went on to win the Stanley Cup. In 1988, the Kings were again blown out of the first round, but by the Calgary Flames, while Gretzky led the Oilers to another Stanley Cup.
The entire world of sports was shocked on August 9, 1988 upon the announcement of the Oilers trading Wayne Gretzky along with Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley, to the Kings for two rising young players (Jimmy Carson and Martin Gelinas), three first-round draft picks, and $15 million.
Gretzky would lead the Kings in the 1988-89 NHL season to vast improvements. For the first time, the Kings had a better season record than Edmonton, finishing second in the Smythe Division over the third place Oilers. This also led to another first round match up between the Kings and Oilers. This time, it was the Kings, with Gretzky, against the Oilers, and the Kings also had home ice. The Oilers first took command of the series and jumped ahead three games to one above the Kings. But Los Angeles answered back with three straight wins to win the series against Edmonton.
In the next three playoff meetings between the two teams, the Gretzky-led Kings would be eliminated by his former teammates in four, six, and six games respectively. Edmonton also won another Stanley Cup in 1990 after sweeping the Kings in the second round.
After the 1990-91 NHL season, the rivalry would die down as players from the Oilers would move to other teams. Jari Kurri and Charlie Huddy would rejoin Gretzky on the Kings and go on a playoff run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993, losing to Montreal in five games. Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Adam Graves, Craig MacTavish, and others would move to the New York Rangers and go on a Stanley Cup winning run in 1994.
|National Hockey League (2007-08)|
|Eastern Conference||Western Conference|
|New Jersey Devils||Boston Bruins||Atlanta Thrashers||Chicago Blackhawks||Calgary Flames||Anaheim Ducks|
|New York Islanders||Buffalo Sabres||Carolina Hurricanes||Columbus Blue Jackets||Colorado Avalanche||Dallas Stars|
|New York Rangers||Montreal Canadiens||Florida Panthers||Detroit Red Wings||Edmonton Oilers||Los Angeles Kings|
|Philadelphia Flyers||Ottawa Senators||Tampa Bay Lightning||Nashville Predators||Minnesota Wild||Phoenix Coyotes|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||Toronto Maple Leafs||Washington Capitals||St. Louis Blues||Vancouver Canucks||San Jose Sharks|
|Seasons (structure) · Stanley Cup (Playoffs–Finals–Champions) · Presidents' Trophy · All-Star Game · Draft · Players (Association) · All-Star Teams · Awards|
|History · Timeline · Defunct teams · NHA · Original Six · 1967 Expansion · WHA · Streaks · Droughts · Hall of Fame (members) · Rivalries · Arenas · Rules · Violence|