As I watched last Friday’s Chicago Blackhawks game against the Detroit Red Wings, I realized I was watching the last time the two historic franchises will play each other on a regular basis. A wave of sadness came over me.
The first thing I learned about from my Dad when he took me to my first ever Blackhawks game was the rivalry between the ‘Hawks and the Detroit Red Wings. As a ‘Hawks fan, you’re not supposed to take it lightly.
The ‘Hawks and Wings rivalry is one of the longest and most historic rivalries in all of hockey. It began in 1926, and since then the two have played each other more often than any other teams in the NHL. It’s a rivalry almost as old as the league itself, but it’s all going to end next season.
The NHL passed its realignment plan earlier this year. In the plan, the league will switch to a four division format, down from the current six. The new plan keeps the two conferences with 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and 14 in the Western Conference.
Sadly, the Red Wings are headed to the Eastern Conference while the ‘Hawks will remain in the West, ending one of the best divisional rivalries in professional sports. The teams may play each other maybe once or twice a season but that isn’t guaranteed to happen.
The ‘Hawks-Red Wings rivalry is more than just two teams that dislike each other. There’s a level of mutual respect that made the rivalry something special. Both teams have built fun, exciting rosters, with talent you can’t help but enjoy watching. As much as I dislike seeing it happen, watching Pavel Datsyuk, well, being Datsyuk is fun.
Detroit has not only produced some of the best hockey players in recent memory but, the franchise has always been classy. The Red Wings use their talent, and not dirty and cheap tricks, to win games.
No matter what each team’s record is, it’s always a tough, intense hockey game that is emotional for the fans and players alike. The United Center is never as alive it as when Detroit visits The Madhouse and that atmosphere is going to be sorely missed.
I understand the reasoning behind the realignment plan, and I even welcome the change, but it’s tragic the NHL is essentially ending its most historic rivalry.