As they continue their rebuild, the Vancouver Canucks have seen a handful of heated rivalries lose their steam. The Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks aren’t the arch rivals anymore, so stands out as Vancouver’s sworn enemy?
At the height of their dominance in the late 2000s and early 2010s, the Vancouver Canucks had heated rivalries with the Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks.
But the Canucks and Blackhawks last met in the playoffs seven years ago, and central figures in the rivalry like Kevin Bieksa (a free agent), Dave Bolland (under contract with the Arizona Coyotes, but unlikely to play again), and Alexandre Burrows (retired), are long gone.
Bieksa is no longer with the Ducks, and fans are simply over the Ryan Kesler trade. Consider that Anaheim has been a juggernaut for several years while the Canucks have been rebuilding, and the lack of competition between the two means no more heated rivalry.
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As for the Bruins, the Canucks only meet them twice a year, and the Burrows and Sedin twins no longer on Vancouver. Neither is Roberto Luongo, so there isn’t much heat between the two teams, even though Vancouverites remain bitter about the 2011 Stanley Cup Final loss.
Okay, so if three of Vancouver’s biggest rivals of the past 10 years are no longer big time enemies, which team gets under their skin the most? Who is the ultimate Vancouver Canucks’ arch enemy?
I think we have to say it’s the Calgary Flames, whom I ranked as Vancouver’s biggest rivalry before last season. I outlined the infamous playoff series between the two clubs in 1989, 1994, 2004 and 2015.
Oh, and the time where former head coach John Tortorella stormed into the Calgary locker room to confront Bob Hartley for playing his tough guys against the Sedins to start a 2014 game. Don’t think for an instant the rivalry between these two teams has gone away, though.
The Pacific Division foes are always competing for bragging rights in Western Canada, and you can just feel the tension between the two fanbases. Canuck fans are always reminded that they passed on power forward Matthew Tkachuk in 2016, selecting defenceman Olli Juolevi who’s yet to appear in an NHL game.
Even though the Canucks and Flames have been mired in mediocrity over the past five years, the rivalry remains as strong as ever. They’re often featured on Hockey Night In Canada, and 2018-19 marks the fourth time in five years where Vancouver meets Calgary in its season opener.
The NHL schedule makers know what’s at stake every time the Canucks and Flames meet, which is why we see them pitted against one another in so many prime time games.
Vancouver is led by young stars Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and Calder Trophy nominee Elias Pettersson. The Flames are guided by Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. With both teams stockpiling young talent — and thus not far off from title contention — expect the rivalry to only get stronger over time.