One thing the lockout has helped do is cool off a few long-standing NHL rivalries as well as some budding ones as well. If there’s something NHL fans can take solace in, it’s that some of those wars rage on in the AHL with future league stars.
Rivalries between the Oilers-Flames, Devils-Flyers, Rangers-Islanders, and others all live on between the exiled young NHLers with those teams. For them, it provides a chance to improve themselves against equal competition.
For New Jersey Devils forward Adam Henrique (Albany Devils) playing against guys on the Flyers like Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn, it doesn’t get old.
“That’s one of those rivalries that picks up over the course of the season. We play them, what, 12 or 13 times here so teams get really familiar with each other.”
“We’re familiar with each other. We know what they’re going to bring to the table each night. We know what we’re gonna bring. More often than not it’s going to be a hard-fought battle to the end of the game.”
The rivalry between the Devils and Flyers is tight in the NHL, but it’s the same way in the AHL with the two teams being separated by a relatively short drive for the minor leagues. Brayden Schenn says that just helps add to the flavor.
“We play ’em lots, we see ’em lots. We know what they’re all about and since they’re so close as well, about a 30-minute drive, it’s almost like you’re playing a home game.”
For a guy like Travis Hamonic, playing with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers, matching up against forward talent like that presents him with his own set of challenges.
“I like it, I really enjoy it,” Hamonic says of facing other NHL guys there. “Those are good young players that are in the same situation I’m in. It seems like every team’s got a few of those guys so for me I enjoy it. Those are guys I play against on a regular basis so it’s nice to be able to compete against them.”
Whenever the NHL does return, it’ll be good to see this kind of heat carry over for fans to relish in again.