Often times, NBCSports’ Wednesday Night Rivalry Night delivers a matchup of two marketable teams from big market cities. Tonight’s Red Wings-Blackhawks matchup offers that, plus a respectable rivalry in today’s NHL.
Jonathon Ericsson once said in a Bob Duff article that the players from both teams always get up for the Detroit-Chicago games and have mutual respect for each other. The matchup is truly quality hockey at its finest.
Already this season, the Detroit Red Wings have been featured on Rivalry Night a number of times, including matchups with the Capitals, Penguins, and Avalanche. There is plenty of bad blood with the Avalanche in the history of the two franchises, but none as of late. The Penguins and Capitals are obviously former Stanley Cup opponents, but do not offer much else in history or distaste for each other.
The Red Wings-Blackhawks rivalry can be traced back to the days when the Norris family owned both teams. Their proximity to each other and distance from other original six teams offered a Midwest rivalry during Original Six play. Red Wing greats Glenn Hall, Ted Lindsay, and Sid Abel all spent a portion of their careers in Chicago (usually through unbalanced, intra-family trades to improve the Blackhawks).
Of the players on today’s teams, only Marian Hossa and Danny Cleary have played for both the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks. Greats Chris Chelios and Bob Probert also spent time as fan favorites for both franchises during their careers.
The showcase of these two teams for Rivalry Night features Detroit’s one true, contemporary rivalry. It can be traced back to the franchises’ entrance to the NHL, but most recently to the 2009 Western Conference Finals, where the Red Wings defeated the Blackhawks in five games on Darren Helm’s overtime goal.
Since then, the Red Wings and Blackhawks have been among the NHL’s most talented teams year-after-year. They feature superstars, budding players, and the most pure skills between any two teams in the NHL. Look back to the quality of hockey played during the 2013 playoff matchup of these two teams. Though the Red Wings lost, you can’t help but appreciate the talent these two teams put on the ice for that series.
The teams’ talent and compete levels are similar because their systems are bred from the same template: the Red Wings franchise. It’s no wonder the Blackhawks resemble the Red Wings—Scotty Bowman is a team consultant and his son is the GM. The Blackhawks are modeled after the success the Red Wings experienced over the past two decades. Pretty cool to be model franchise for rival teams and other NHL clubs, huh?
Enjoy the game tonight. It’s the best matchup in the NHL and the best rivalry the Red Wings are a part of today.