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Flames-Oilers A great sporting rivalry

For a sports fan, there is nothing quite like a great rivalry. For a hockey fan, this is the Battle of Alberta.

For the first time since 1991, the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers participated in a National Hockey League playoff series. The last two weeks of May saw Alberta’s two rivals take center stage, delivering not only an intense event on the ice, but an equally intense showdown off the ice. Case in point: A bar in Red Deer, which is exactly halfway within a kilometer between the two major cities in the province, has a dividing line right down the middle of the bar—Flames fans on one side, Oilers fans on the other the other miscellaneous. Sharpen your tongue but leave the hardware at home.

Alberta hockey fans, non-hockey fans, people of all ages and walks of life have an opinion on the Battle of Alberta. It’s always about braggart rights, and politics even gets mixed up in the fray because the ruling UCP has its strength in Calgary while the opposition NDP is strongest in Edmonton.

The vast majority of fans just enjoyed the friendly back-and-forth, although some obviously took it more seriously than others. On the world stage, the Battle of Alberta is hardly registered as a well-known sporting rivalry, but in Canada it is by far the greatest. Football might have its Blue Bombers-Roughriders fights or its Argos-Ti-Cats confrontations, but nothing compares to Oilers-Flames. Globally, the Yankees-Red Sox rank just as high as the Federer-Nadal duels on the tennis court. Most baseball hatred, however, may be between the Dodgers and Giants, both of whom were born in suburban New York before moving to the West Coast in the late 1950s.

What are your favorite sports rivalries? How about Ali Frazier? Those of a certain age will remember this. Fans of Premier League football in the UK will say that there is nothing more intense in the world of sport than Manchester United and Manchester City. On a smaller scale, Pats vs. Warriors is sure to get fans’ blood boiling in southern Saskatchewan. Tiger-Phil was pretty good on the PGA Tour, a generation after Arnie-Jack. If you need full names on these golf references, you are not a true sports fan.

For the competitors, winning is all that matters in these rivalries, but for fans, it’s the buildup and trash-talking that takes these battles from the mundane to the essential.

  • Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, on just a food truck outside at an Oakland A’s home game as a sad sign of the times: “There used to be eight or ten to choose from. Pretty soon it will be just a guy selling day-old churros and two kids running a lemonade stand.”
  • Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Kira Thomas was arrested and charged with assault in Laurel, Mississippi for hitting a referee at a 12-year-old girl’s softball game, WLBT-TV reported. The capper? In her mugshot, Thomas is wearing a ‘Mother of the Year’ t-shirt.”
  • From the ‘What????’ department, found in Phil Mushnick‘s NY Post column: “During a recent Michigan and Minnesota women’s softball broadcast, ESPN’s Lisa Byton advised, ‘The last thing you want to do is walk with the lead-off hitter, especially when there’s no one on base.'”
  • Headline at TheBeaverton.com: “Sportsnet Apologizes for Disrupting Gambling Promotion With Hockey.”
  • Patti Dawn Swanssonon news, the wrestlers Rico flair will step into the ring this summer at the age of 73: “Hey, if Mike Jagger can dance around on stage and pretend he can still sing at 78, why not Rico flair act like he can still fight?”
  • Bob Molinaro from pilotonline.com (Hampton, Va.): “He was reported to be a former Saints quarterback after a year as an NBC Football Studio analyst Drew Brees is off. Barely enough time to know he’s there.”
  • RJ Currie from sportsdeke.com: “In the last five playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs are 0-9 in eliminations – 0-4 in Game 7. Even my 1990 VW is better in the clutch.
    • Headline on TheBeaverton.com: “Stanley Cup ‘Playoffs Contenders’ Banner Raised Again at (Toronto’s) Scotia Bank Centre.”
  • Headline at Fark.com: “Nike to Kyrie Irving: Just do it… with another shoe company.”
  • Dwight Perry again: “Former Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski According to the university’s federal tax returns, nearly $3.3 million in base salary, $2 million in bonus payments, and just over $7.2 million in other reportable compensation were paid in 2020. Looks like he’s perfected his bankshot.”
    • Coach of the Vancouver Giants Michael Dykeon Kamloop’s This Week on why he wouldn’t criticize the umpire after a 4-2 playoff loss in the WHL: “With gas prices these days, I can’t waste money on fines.”
  • Another from fark.com, on Stephen Curry Graduating from college 13 years after leaving Davidson: “Hopefully he’ll find work now that he graduates.”

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.

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