For decades, the rivalry between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings was a fiery one. It’s a duel that dates back all the way to the 1920’s when both teams first met. The rivalry, forged in the Great Lakes region, has historically been dominated by the Winged Wheel. In just over 800 meetings, the Red Wings lead the all-time series, but when the years of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita came along, the Windy City’s control over the rivalry took a turn.
That was a long time ago. Before any of us were alive. Who cares? What matters is here and now… and if you tuned into Sunday night’s game between the Wings and Hawks at the United Center, you didn’t see a rivalry game. What you got was a Blackhawks beatdown in the comfort of their own home — and thanks to division realignment, this rivalry is on life support.
If you think about recent years, the Blackhawks have often found themselves at the top of the NHL largely thanks to a strong core of stars a la Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith, etc. While that was happening, Detroit was trying to stay relevant with their aging core in Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, etc. While the rivalry was still very much real in those years, it wasn’t much fun for Red Wings fans. The Blackhawks were always a tall task to take on, and Detroit simply didn’t have the star power to propel themselves to such a status. It appears that the tables are shifting now.
Chicago spent the offseason trying to “reload” their roster. They signed defenseman Seth Jones to a mega-contract (similar to what Toews and Kane got), they acquired the reigning Vezina Trophy winner and future Hall of Fame goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.. Not to mention, they got their captain back after missing significant time with some health issues. What should be a decent team on paper is certainly not, and what should be an OK team on the ice is definitely not the case either.
The Red Wings are still in a rebuild phase, but they didn’t look like that Sunday night. Detroit showed up to the United Center and ran away with the contest thanks to budding stars in players like defenseman Moritz Seider and forward Lucas Raymond, two names you will likely see at the top of the race for the Calder Trophy this season. Seider led his team in ice time (23:19), and Lucas Raymond dazzled Chicago spectators with a hat-trick performance in just under 17 minutes of ice time. It was a 6-3 final in which the Blackhawks never held a lead.
How is this rivalry dying?
I think Red Wings and Blackhawks fans still have that burning hate toward another deep down, but I didn’t see that Sunday night. The crowd at the United Center seemed deflated. No “Detroit Sucks” chants? Come on. Where’s the fire over this storied Original Six rivalry?! Is it finally waning? Probably.
I don’t think the Chicago Blackhawks are as bad as their win-less record shows, I just think they are very poorly coached and managed. On the flip side, you have an up-and-coming team being built by Steve Yzerman, who has a proven track record with building contending teams. It just seems to me that the tables are turning between these two franchises.
Detroit and Chicago rarely play one another now thanks to how the NHL is drawn up on the map. So, while history tells us this is one of the NHL’s biggest rivalries, is that still the case? I don’t think so. You only play each other a couple of times a year, so when it comes to game time and the Chicago fanbase isn’t howling and taunting Detroit.. Well, it seems like maybe this rivalry is starting to fade.
Sure, the Chicago-Detroit rivalry will always exist because why wouldn’t it? But for now, I think we can all agree that the fire between the Hawks and Wings has been doused.