I know that as a longtime Flames fan I should naturally hate the Greasers more than any other team in the league (and that definitely used to be the case), but the last few years I've grown to hate the Canucks even more. This was all brought back to me by a post by Matt over at BofA, in which he stated pretty much the same thing.
I had originally thought that it was something that only affected me because I was not born or raised in Calgary, nor have I ever lived there for any prolonged period of time. I'm assuming that the hate between the two largest cities in the province of Alberta goes well beyond sports, as I have often lived in areas that had regional rivalries that went well beyond athletics.
In my small home town of Haliburton we were raised to despise those from the neighbouring village of Minden. Each town had its own elementary schools, and then the kids from Minden got bussed to Haliburton for high school. There were definitely divided social groups, as you tended to stick with the kids you grew up with, even though you were now playing on sports teams together.
The divide between the two towns actually goes back further in history, as Haliburton got the railway, while Minden was given the county seat. Of course, now that the railway is no longer in use, we have only the beauty of the town of Haliburton to hold over those from Minden.
At which point you are probably wondering why I would bother to mention this (other than to bring up my hometown yet again, and to possibly show how far away from Toronto I actually grew up).
Although I have never really lived in Alberta, I can grasp the feelings of the inhabitants in regards to those of the two major cities. From my example, the town of Haliburton more closely reflects that of Calgary and Minden is, in turn, Edmonton. In Haliburton County the major industry is tourism instead of oil (and to an extent, farming) in Alberta.
The point of all of this is that I don't have that regional competition with Edmonton in my background, merely the sports related hatred from the Flames and Stampeders teams that I follow. When the Oilers were only marginally better than the Flames in the late 90's, my hatred born of the 80's started to lessen and I actually cheered for the Oilers in the playoffs every once in a while (wait, don't throw things at me yet...).
When Calgary made the run at the cup in 2004, I had no reason to be concerned with the Oilers, as the Flames wouldn't have to face them. However, they would have to face the Canucks. Following that series against Vancouver, I could honestly say that I hated them much more than the greasers, especially Ed Jovanovski and Matt Cooke.
Last season was more of the same, as I still regarded that Oilers as an underdog team in the Western Conference, where Vancouver was considered a favourite. It wasn't until Edmonton won their opening matchup in the playoffs last year, when a battle of Alberta in the playoffs was a distinct possibility, that the old feelings started to rush back to me. When Calgary was put out by the Mighty Ducks, I was no longer feeling any sense of hope for the Oilers, but I also didn't really have a whole lot of disdain for them at that moment either. It has been a while since a Canadian club has won the Stanley Cup, so at that point I was starting to think 'hey, it wouldn't be that bad...'. (I said to hold off on the throwing things at me, I'm coming around to my point... I think)...
Of course, as the playoffs wound down to the finals, my old feelings re-emerged with a vengeance. There was no way I wanted the Greasers to win the cup, especially with all of the Oil fans talking about how they would do the job that the Flames couldn't finish off (although Marty goal was in the net...). It was one of those bittersweet Stanley Cup finishes, where your team didn't win it, but at least THEIR TEAM didn't win it either...
Then we had to listen to it all summer, and into the beginning of the season. Until the Oilers 'vaunt' seemed to disappear. They have now fallen back down to where they belong and the Canucks have once again returned as our nemesis. I still hate the Oil, but I also despise the Canucks, too. With the recent Greaser tailspin putting them back down near 'pity' territory, I once more feel obliged to cheer for them against the Canucks tonight. Well, maybe not cheer, but pull for them anyway.
Of course, I could always think of something I'd like even better...