It was once the most-played rivalry in the history of the NHL. Now it’s merely a footnote. The rivalry between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings saw the likes of Gordie Howe, Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Jeremy Roenick, Steve Yzerman, Chris Chelios, Niklas Lidstrom, Tony Amonte, Henrik Zetterberg, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews participate.
It was a rivalry born out of familiarity, geography and competition. Now it is dead because of the necessity of realignment. But now that the Hawks and Wings are facing each other for the first time in nearly a year, the question must be asked: Is there still mutual hate? Perhaps it’s a little premature to say the rivalry is completely dead.
Well, considering the rivalry only ended last year, perhaps the answer is a simple “yes.” The Red Wings and their fans are likely going to be miffed about losing in Game 7. On the western shore of Lake Michigan, Hawks fans will not forgotten the hate they’ve held for the Wings any time soon. Perhaps some bitterness coming from a perception among some fans over the Wings throwing away history to leave for the Eastern Conference is festering among Hawks fans.
Perhaps the hate will never really die. After all, Chicago and Detroit’s other teams play in the same divisions in their respective sports and there’s no love lost between those teams. Attend a game at Soldier Field, U.S. Cellular Field or the United Center for the respective sports and a few anti-Detroit chants might erupt (in fact, it might be one of the few things that brings the fans of Chicago’s baseball teams together).
As for the players, well, it’s hard to tell. In all likelihood, they’ve dropped all pretenses of hate from this rivalry since there won’t be a lot of familiarity to breed contempt. It used to be that the Wings were like the older brother for the young Blackhawks, ruining everything for them. But now the Hawks are on their own. The older brother has flown the nest. There isn’t much room for hate now.
The Blackhawks and Red Wings’ rivalry is dead, for all intents and purposes, but the hate is still there. It’s been building and simmering for years. You don’t kill hate like that so easily. It will dissipate as time goes on, but don’t expect the chants of “DEE-TROIT SUCKS” to stop raining down from the 300 level any time soon.