Gretzky vs. Lemieux. Howe vs. Hull. Probert vs. Domi. There have been some epic rivalries in the NHL when it comes to two personalities clashing. Some men fought their battles on the scoresheet while others dropped the gloves and settled the arguments as to who was better. The newest rivalry seems to have started at a place that most rivalries are forgotten: the NHL All-Star Game. The two men who are looking more and more like sworn enemies in nature? Philadelphia's Scott Hartnell and Toronto's Dion Phaneuf. Personally, this rivalry looks like it might be very entertaining for years to come as both men decided to put on a show last night in the Leafs-Flyers game.
Let's go back, though, to the NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa. Hartnell scored himself a goal, and then skated by Team Chara's Dion Phaneuf and delivered a message.
Jump ahead a week and a half, and the Leafs and Flyers are playing one another. Hartnell is having his usual game - throwing the body, being a disturbance, and causing general unhappiness for the Leafs - and Phaneuf is being his usual belligerent self for the Leafs. A hit by Phaneuf causes Hartnell to lose his balance as he falls behind the net, and then Hartnell comes out front and gets some retribution.
That's two-thirds of a Gordie Howe hat trick, and he would indeed pick up the assist to fulfill the GHHT later in the game. Hartnell is having himself a whale of a season this year, and he's showing that he's equal parts glitz and grit.
If this battle between Hartnell and Phaneuf continues, we could be seeing a new rivalry unlike many others. Both of these men like to play physical, and both have established themselves as scoring threats for their teams. I like the idea of having these two gladiators dueling, and it could make for some fireworks if the Leafs and Flyers were to meet in the playoffs!
Whose back do you have, readers: Hartnell or Phaneuf? More importantly, why are you in this man's corner? I'm going with Hartnell myself simply because I like his chatter. "Suck it, Phaneuf" should be a new catchphrase for all Flyer fans.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!