The Blackhawks–Blues rivalry is a National Hockey League (NHL) rivalry featuring two teams in the league's Western Conference Central Division, the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues. Since 1970, the two teams have been in the same division together. It is the most intense rivalry in terms of penalty minutes and fighting, and at the height of the rivalry during the Norris Division days, it was common to go to a Chicago vs. St. Louis game and see a brawl break out.
The Blackhawks are an Original Six team, while the Blues entered play in the 1967 expansion. The long-standing bitter rivalry between sports fans from Chicago and St. Louis, which are separated by 300 miles, as seen in the Cardinals–Cubs rivalry in Major League Baseball, has led to the Blackhawks and Blues to have an intense hatred for each other. The two teams have been in the same division since 1970 (Western 1970–74, Smythe 1974–81, Norris 1981–93, Central 1993–present). They also qualified for the playoffs together every season from 1980 to 1997. Every Norris Division Final from 1982 to 1993 involved either the Blackhawks or Blues, or both teams, except for 1987, when the Detroit Red Wings faced the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The rivalry caught fire in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when both teams had well-known stars such as Jeremy Roenick, Chris Chelios, and Ed Belfour for the Hawks and Brett Hull, Adam Oates, and Vincent Riendeau for the Blues; additionally, both played in old arenas (St. Louis Arena and Chicago Stadium) that were regarded as two of the loudest in the league. By coincidence, both were built in 1929 and both closed in 1994 to make way for new buildings. The Blackhawks moved across the street to the United Center, while the Blues moved into the Kiel Center.
All six Sutter Brothers would either play for the Blackhawks or Blues. In fact, left wingers Darryl and Brian spent their entire careers with Chicago and St. Louis respectively. They would also become head coaches for the teams that they played. Brian also coached the Blackhawks for a short time. He won the Jack Adams Award with the Blues in 1991, and was the runner-up in 2002 with the Blackhawks. Duane and Brent would also play and end their careers with the Blackhawks although they never played together with Chicago. Twins Ron and Rich would play together at one point with the Blues when Ron got traded in 1992. Also, Rich is the only Sutter brother to play for the Blackhawks and Blues. This often created a brother vs. brother match-up not only in the playoffs, but as well in the season division battles that both teams got involved in.
One notable moment in the rivalry was the 1991 season. Both teams not only battled for the Norris Division, but the top seed in the Western Conference, and Presidents' Trophy. It came down to the wire on the last day of the season when Chicago Blackhawks took all 3 crowns by a point with a win against Detroit Red Wings, even though St. Louis Blues won their last game against Minnesota North Stars. St. Louis finished 2nd overall in the entire NHL with 105 points, while Chicago finish 1st overall with 106 points. Both teams were expected to meet in the Norris Division Final, but the Minnesota North Stars upset Chicago in the Norris Division Semifinal and St. Louis in the Norris Division Final, both in 6 games, making it the 2nd and 3rd largest upsets respectively in NHL history in points.
Perhaps the defining moment in that same season came in a brawl during the Blackhawks' 6–4 win over the Blues on March 17, 1991. The game became known as the "St. Patrick's Day Massacre" for the massive amount of fighting and penalties handed out to both teams. In the game, the two teams got into a brawl after Glen Featherstone shoved Jeremy Roenick after his hard hit on Harold Snepsts. Keith Brown shoved Featherstone, beginning a brawl. Twelve players, six on each team, were ejected, while there was a total of 278 penalty minutes. After reviewing the tapes, the NHL suspended Blues defenseman Scott Stevens for two games, and Hawks Mike Peluso and Blues Kelly Chase each for 10 games and fined both teams $10,000 each.
The following year in the Norris Division Semifinal: The Sutter Brothers squared off in this playoff series. Twins Ron and Rich were on the Blues as players, while Brian was the head coach. While the Blackhawks had Brent as the player, Darryl was the Assistant coach of the team, and Duane was a scout. Although the Blues took the first two out of the three games, the Blackhawks would win the rest of the series, which began a playoff streak of 11 straight games and their run to the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals.
In the 1993 Norris Division semifinal, Chicago, despite having won the division handily, were swept by the Blues, who won the series on an overtime goal. Belfour, who said he had been interfered with on the goal, would cause thousands of dollars' worth of damage to the visitors' dressing room at the Arena, breaking a coffeemaker, hot tub and television among other objects. In 1999, Blues and Blackhawks fans would be left to contemplate the irony of the situation when Belfour and Hull were teammates on the Cup-winning Dallas Stars.
With the rise of the Hawks and Blues back into prominence in the early 2010s, the rivalry heated up once again. The Hawks beat the Blues in the opening round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs 4–2 after trailing 2-0. They played each other again in the first round of the 2016 playoffs. The Blues jumped out to a 3–1 series lead, but the Blackhawks won games 5 and 6 to force a game 7. The Blues won the game 3–2 on a goal by former Blackhawk Troy Brouwer with 11:29 left in the third period.
- Browning, William (October 13, 2010). First person fan smack talk: Chicago Blackhawks no comparison to St. Louis Blues. Yahoo!. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved on February 24, 2011.
- Kiley, Mike. "Hawks Bash Blues in Battle Royal", March 18, 1991, p. 1.
- Luecking, Dave. "'Hawks Win Bloody Fight ... 12 Ejected In 6-4 Loss", March 18, 1991, p. 1C.
- Kiley, Mike. "NHL Suspends Peluso; Blues' Sentence Irks Keenan", March 22, 1991, p. 5.
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