Flames, Oilers rivalry spawns billboards, duelling charity donations

CALGARY, ALBERTA - JANUARY 11: Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Calgary Flames skates away after a fight against Zack Kassian #44 of the Edmonton Oilers at Scotiabank Saddledome on January 11, 2020 in Calgary, Canada. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

There’s nothing like the rekindling of a good old fashioned hockey rivalry to get the blood pumping between two fanbases. The Battle of Alberta between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames has been proven alive and well in recent days, with Matthew Tkachuk and Zack Kassian providing the on-ice instigation for the decades-old feud to come alive as strongly as ever before.

Accompanying the handfuls of hockey gloves strewn about the ice on a regular basis, fans on both teams have also taken to the internet to defend their side’s honour with competing social campaigns. Fanbases trying to out-troll each other, in a general sense, almost always results in cringe-worthy behaviour but this time something actually tangibly good has come out it.

It started — as few good things do — with advertising. Flames fans hatched an admittedly brilliant gofundme campaign to plaster Matthew Tkachuk’s face on billboards across Edmonton. They quickly surpassed their $2,500 goal in under two days, and a local radio station hopped on board to make sure those things get up.

Yes, when it comes to being antagonizing, sometimes Tkachuk’s face is really all it takes. Just ask Drew Doughty, he’d surely agree.

With all the help the Flames fans received in the process, they turned their share of proceeds (over $3,700 at time of writing) to the ALS foundation.

And so, the bar was set.

Oilers fans, led by the action of twitter user @SaminYEG responded with donations of their own in defence of Zack Kassian.

What started as a simple small gesture exploded through Oilers fandom, and the competition brought out the best in them.

Less than 24 hours later, 169 donations worth more than $6,500 were made in the name of the movement as of Wednesday afternoon and with another big pledge on the way. W. Brett Wilson, who you might know if you watch Dragon’s Den, said he would match donations that Oilers fans can make as of Friday at noon up to $10K and would give another $5K to an Edmonton charity of the original poster’s choice.

Kassian and the Oilers meet Tkachuk’s Flames again on January 29th, a matchup that fans, NHL Player Safety, and now local charities will all surely have a keen eye on.

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