I have a lot of really obnoxious friends who root for the New Jersey Devils. Seeing as I'm from New Jersey, this isn't necessarily shocking.
They often pull out the "duuuuude we're from Jersey, gotta support the home team!" card when trying to make their argument for why they root for the wrong team, when in reality they're only Devils fans because we happened to be at an impressionable age when New Jersey won the Stanley Cup in 1995.
Sure, that's only an explanation for this phenomenon if you're about 30 years old or younger, but if we were to take a survey of South Jersey-born/raised Devils fans, I bet the vast majority of them are on the younger end of the spectrum simply because the Devils were good when they were growing up. There's no other reason to explain why people from South Jersey are fans of a team that played in East Rutherford vs. a team that plays in Philadelphia. Zero explanation.
And if you're from South Jersey and somewhere in your early 30s or younger, you probably know a lot of obnoxious Devils fans you call friends, just like I do. And what's the worst part about a rival team winning a Stanley Cup or a championship in any sport?
It's not that you really hate the team all that much. I mean, that's definitely part of it at times, but I'm not so sure it's the truth with this Devils team. Hate (but begrudgingly respect) that NJ logo? Absolutely.
But hate the guys on this Devils team? That's tough. It's hard to hate Zach Parise or Alexei Ponikarovsky or Steve Bernier or Adam Henrique or Ryan Carter. It's kind of hard to hate Ilya Kovalchuk, frankly, too. I'm talking like ... real Scott Stevens level hatred here, by the way. Maybe you have bottled up 12-year-old hatred for Martin Brodeur and Patrik Elias, and that's totally justifiable, but they really aren't the worst dudes in the world. And Devils coach Pete DeBoer seems kind of awesome.
No, it's not that you hate the team. It's that you hate your friends who root for that team, and when they win, you have to deal with those phone calls and those text messages and those bets you made when you were drinking. For an entire calendar year, you have to deal with STANLEY CUP CHAMPS WOOOOO! 1975! 1975! etc. It's just the worst.
But that's just the thing: When you're talking hockey with a friend who roots for the Devils today or last week or even last season, when the Devils were awful, or five years ago or 10 years ago, the conversation always comes back to the same talking points: The Devils have three Stanley Cups since '95 and the Flyers haven't won since '75. The Devils have no fans and parking lot parades. Oh, and they're boooooring. Really boring.
We've been dealing with obnoxious Devils fans for decades at this point, and frankly, we're kind of experts at it. So if they happen to win another? That sucks. But is it any worse than if the Penguins were to win another? Or if the Rangers (God forbid) had advanced to the Finals this year and won the thing? Or if the Capitals finally break through and win one or (lol) the Islanders are able to turn their mess around and win another one before the Flyers do? No. It's really not.
Don't get me wrong here: I'm rooting for the Los Angeles Kings. I've never jumped on a bandwagon so strongly in my life. Not only are they basically the Flyers in different colors (and how awesome would it be to see Simon Gagne and Ron Hextall get a Cup, regardless of the polarizing feelings we all have on Mike Richards and Jeff Carter?) but their organization is utterly hilarious and completely refreshing. They deserve a Cup and I'm going to be rooting like hell for them over the next two weeks, and them playing the Devils only has me rooting harder.
But if the Devils win the Cup this year, it's not so bad. After all, a parade through the streets of Newark is even funnier than a parade in a parking lot.