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The Blackhawks–Red Wings rivalry is a historic rivalry in the National Hockey League (NHL) between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. Prior to the 2013–14 league-wide divisional realignment, it was the most intense rivalry in the Central Division during the post-lockout era. They represent the two largest metro areas in the Midwest and are only separated by a 280-mile stretch of road, mostly covered by I-94. The clubs began playing each other in 1926–27, during the inaugural season for both franchises.


The series began on November 24, 1926, when the NHL's two fledgling Midwest teams met for the first time. In the matchup, the Detroit Cougars (the club was eventually renamed Red Wings in 1932) earned a 1–0 victory against the Chicago Black Hawks (the team name was compounded to Blackhawks in 1986) at the Chicago Coliseum. In that game, Frank Frederickson of the Cougars scored the only goal with five minutes remaining in the third period, assisted by defenseman Hobie Kitchen, and goaltender Hap Holmes recorded the first shutout of his rookie season. It was the first win in Detroit franchise history, and the first loss in Chicago franchise history. Chicago's first Stanley Cup was later won against the Red Wings in 1934, when winger Mush March scored a goal in a double-overtime game, the first-ever Stanley Cup-winning overtime goal in the history of the NHL (though not the first in the history of the game, as Dan Bain accomplished this feat in January 1901 for the Winnipeg Victorias to bring them their second Stanley Cup).[1][2]

During the 26-year period where the NHL had only the Original Six, both teams were controlled by the Norris family. Patriarch James Norris owned both franchises, until his death in 1953 split the rivals between his sons – the elder son, James was a co-owner of the Black Hawks along with Arthur Wirtz, while his brother Bruce inherited ownership of the Red Wings. In 1961, the Black Hawks led by Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita broke 23 years without a title by defeating Gordie Howe's Wings.[3] On a visit to Olympia Stadium in Detroit in the 1960s, Hull was heckled by three Red Wings fans who eventually climbed the glass and dangled their arms over it before he hit them with his stick.[4]

Starting in 1970–71, the Blackhawks realigned to the West Division while the Red Wings remained in the East. In 1981–82, they were reunited in the reconfigured Norris Division, which was renamed the Central Division in 1993 after the NHL revamped its alignment naming protocol.[1] 7 of the 10 largest hockey crowds in Chicago's United Center were for Blackhawks–Red Wings games.[5]

Blackhawks–Red Wings games were among the ones most notable for fighting. Bob Probert and Stu Grimson played for both teams and fought each other frequently. Bill Gadsby also played for both teams. Fans had much animosity for each other, with Blackhawks fans chanting "Detroit sucks!" in every game.[5] Chicago native Chris Chelios was booed upon his return to the United Center as a Detroit player in 1999,[5] and former Red Wing Marian Hossa earned the same response in 2009 at the Joe Louis Arena as a Blackhawk.[6]

In the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, the teams faced off against each other in the playoffs for the 16th time, and have played over 800 games against each other.[7] The Blackhawks won the series 4–3 after trailing 3–1.

As a result of the realignment before the 2013–14 NHL season, the Red Wings moved to the Eastern Conference's Atlantic Division, alongside fellow Original Six teams Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs as well as the New York Rangers (though the Rangers are in the Metropolitan Division) in the East. Chicago stayed in the Western Conference's newly formed Central Division. Both the Red Wings and Blackhawks only meet twice every season by virtue of being in opposite conferences, and now can only meet in the postseason if both advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

See also[]


Chicago Blackhawks
FranchisePlayersCoachesGMsSeasonsRecordsDraft PicksUnited CenterRockford IceHogsIndy Fuel
Detroit Red Wings
Team Franchise • Players • Coaches • GMs • Seasons • Draft Picks • Little Caesars Arena
Stanley Cups 1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008
Affiliates Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL), Toledo Walleye (ECHL)
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