Except for the fact that the NYR were on free TV for forty years to establish a fan base in New Jersey, I get your point.
When I was but a wee lad of 10 in the early 90s, I randomly stumbled on to a hockey game on TV. My dad was a big sports fan but never showed any interest in hockey. I instantly fell in love with it, and this one player who seemed to stand out a lot more than everyone else on the ice, Brian Leetch. It was a Rangers game on MSG. The Devils? They were behind a paywall on SportsChannel, inaccessible to me.
Things could have turned out quite differently if the Devils were on what used to be called "basic cable" in the early 90s....
That being said, I was never one of those "Devils suck!" Rangers fans. When they beat Det. in 95, I thought, "Good for NJ."
It did get a bit rough from 1998 through the first lockout when the Rangers were absolutely putrid and the Devils were at the peak of their powers, but even then, I never did truly hate the Devils. If anything, it was grudging respect for the competence of Lou as compared to the clown car on fire management of the Rangers.
My true hate has always been reserved for Philly and Pitts. That's one reason the playoff run this year has been so deeply satisfying.