We've reached September, the month when NHL training camps and preseason games begin. So we can warm up our emotional engines and conjure all the irrational excitement, hatred and other strongly worded feelings that accompany an eight-month devotion to watching men making billions playing a game.
We've kicked off the month with an easy fan game: On even our worst rivals, which player(s) do you (grudgingly, or guiltily) appreciate? And of course, to cleanse your soul of such impure thoughts, which player do you hate most?
Today's team: Philly.
Love Envy and Hate: The Flyers!!11
The Flyers have such a long, proud, fully embraced tradition of tools and d-bags that picking whom to hate most is a matter of checking the roster for the latest clown they employ to cater to the worst Flyers fans' base instincts.
Currently, Zac Rinaldo has inherited the Daniel Carcillo (or whichever fools came in between) role. Rinaldo is not only Google-synonymous with "cheap shot" and "dirty," but his mere presence generally fuels lots of silly penalties for each side. Perhaps that "gets players off their game" and what-not; realistically, it's 1974 behavior in a 2014 league. (To be fair, "Remaldo" is at least the one Flyer with heart. So there's that.)
At least he's not a sore loser who spends garbage time delivering headshots though.
As for love, er, envy?
That's hard. There is no brotherly love here. The easy answer would be to go with one of Philadelphia's former Islanders, ex-captain Mark Streit chief among them.
But in the spirit of this exercise, I won't take that easy route. Rather, I'll go with (the also easy route, actually) Kimmo Timonen, the smooth-skating Finn who has simply been a good and key hockey player on the Flyers for many years. He's getting older (39), and now multiple blood clots have jeopardized what's left of his playing career. (So, in that sense, maybe "envy" isn't the right word here.)
When the Flyers lose him for good, they'll be losing one of the true class acts who defies their decades-long reputation for bush-leaguery. There will be some other really talented Flyers left behind; but given the nature of hockey and the division rivalry, I'll no doubt be hating them.
And you? Which Flyer to you hate most, and which one to you kinda, you know, privately, think is an alright guy? (You can base this on talent, admiration for a certain skillset, traditional passion-fueled fan hate and jealousy, or, I don't know, facial expressions.)
Love Envy/Hate: The Smurfs