LIFE RULE: There is an exception to every rule...
...probably even the rule that I just wrote above.
Before I get too existential, let me explain what's made me so thoughtful.
If there is one opponent that I hate facing, it's the Sharks. There are two reasons for this: first, the memory of last season's playoffs still makes me gag, wretch, cry, and shit myself all at the same time. The heartbreak from Game 3 will (Rob Lowe) literally last my entire life. That experience was my first major heartbreak as a sports fan, and while it taught me that the human heart is resilient (in that I was physically able to make myself walk back into Staples for Game 4), it was a hard and painful lesson to learn. Like Steve Martin says in LA Story (great movie), "Why is it that we don't always recognize the moment when love begins but we always know when it ends?" It's hard for me to know whether I first fell in love with the Kings when I walked through the black curtains and breathed in that cold ice air, or when Rob Scuderi and Peter Harrold walked out in their suits and I got to shake their hands, or the first time I heard the Kings goal horn sound...but I will always, always remember that moment when Setoguchi scored the OT gamewinner, because it was at that moment that I recognized how painful loving the Kings can be. I wouldn't say that my love "ended" because clearly it did not, but the Sharks dealt it a nearly-fatal blow that night, and that is one major reason why I quake in my boots every time we play them.
The second is a far more selfish reason, which is that I truly, truly love my friends who are Sharks fans. I grew up in the middle of Sharks territory, so when I first fell in love with hockey, I felt slightly guilty about ever rooting against them. At the same time, they are a natural rival and I know that many, many Kings fans have had legitimately bad experiences with Sharks fans. And I've read and heard so much about how "all" Sharks fans suck. But that is where my life lesson comes in: for every rule, there is an exception. And my exception to the "Kings fans hate Sharks fans" rule is BJ.
BJ is the greatest guy. We went to high school together and had many shared friends and experiences. After more than 10 years we reconnected due almost completely to our mutual love of hockey, and a renewed friendship was born. Last season he was the ultimate gentleman when the Sharks eliminated the Kings in Round 1. I couldn't ask for a better hockey buddy. He and his beautiful wife C even came down earlier this season and went to a Pens game with us. BJ even made his own Handzus shirts so that he and C could rep the Sharks and show support for the Kings at the same time. And by the time the Kings scored their second goal in that game, he and C were on their feet cheering for the Kings. I never thought I'd see the day when Sharks fans would drive 500 miles just to support a Kings fan. But they did.
So tonight will be tough. Both of our teams are straining for a playoff position. Nothing would make me happier than both teams making it, and thankfully if that happens there seems to be a only a miniscule chance that we'd play each other in Round 1. Our friendship would undoubtedly survive, but I'd rather be in a position where I'm not actively rooting against the Sharks during the playoffs. As I've frequently said to BJ, if my team can't have the Cup, I hope yours can. (I'd say the same thing to my husband about the Red Wings, but his team already won the Cup a bunch of times, so it's time to spread around the wealth.)
Anyway, BJ and C, thanks for being such wonderful hockey friends. You singlehandedly taught me the most important lessons of sports fandom- how to graciously win and lose. Your support of my ever growing love for hockey has truly changed my life. Go Sharks, and Go Kings.
Edit: Some people may call me disloyal for posting anything remotely supporting the Sharks or recognizing the legitimacy or devotion of their fanbase. But BJ knows better than anyone that I'm a Kings fan for life. And the thing that I love most about him is that he'd never, ever try to change that.