The Hawks and The Blues: Rivals for Life

Published March 12, 2023 at 11:40 PM
BY STEF
     
There are many different reasons why teams become rivals. Most commonly it's due to how many times they face each other in pivotal games, or having to due with location, etc. For the Blackhawks and the Blues, they were literally born to be rivals.

The animosity between the two cities already existed, thanks to the Cubs and the Cardinals. So in 1967, when the owners of the Hawks (Arthur Writz) and the Red Wings (James Norris) had a building in St. Louis they wanted off their hands, Sidney Saloman found himself with a home for a brand new hockey team.
And within a year, the Checkerdome was the place to be on Saturday nights, with the entire city coming out in full support.

In the first 3 years of the Original Twelve, the Blues found their way to the playoffs, led by a young Scotty Bowman. However, in each season, they were taken out by a team from the Original Six, and quickly became seen as a «lesser» Chicago Blackhawks. This, of course, only fueled the Blues' passion to prove themselves as legit contenders, and from 1980-1997, every post season included both teams, with the Norris Division final hosting one or the other from 1982-1993, with the exception of 1987 (Wings/Leafs).




Even their stadiums were rivals. Both barns were heralded as the loudest in the league. Both were built in 1929, and both closed in 1994, when the Hawks moved across the street to the United Center, and the Blues moved into the Kiel Center.

Star power also added a charge to the competitiveness with Jeremy Roenick, Chris Chelios, and Ed Belfour fighting for the Blackhawks against Brett Hull, Adam Oates, and Vincent Riendeau and the Blues. Arguably, no two teams had better family rivalry, either, with all six Sutter Brothers playing for either Chicago or St. Louis at some point in, if not all of their careers. Darryl was a lifelong Hawk, while brother Brian spent his career in a Blues sweater. Duane and Brent Sutter never played together, but both ended their careers in Chicago, while the Sutter twins, Ron and Rich, played for the Blues together when Ron was traded from Philadelphia. Rich Sutter got the best of both worlds and played for both the Blackhawks and the Blues.
With any great rivalry comes great brawls, and Chicago and St. Louis were no exception. In the 1989 Norris Division Final, newcomer Jeremy Roenick not only got a skate to the face, requiting stitches, he got into a fight with the Blues' Glen Featherstone, got his teeth knocked out, and scored the GWG. Not bad for your first playoff game.


Perhaps the most infamous battle between the two came in the form of a regular season game, now known as the «St. Patrick's Day Massacre.» In the game that the Blackhawks eventually won 6-4, Jeremy Roenick had a hard hit on Harold Snepsts. Glen Featherstone took exception to that, and shoved Roenick in response. Keith Brown turned around and shoved Featherstone to stand up for his teammate, and that's when the walls came down. Six players from each team were ejected, and a total of 278 penalty minutes were awarded. After all was said and done, the NHL ended up suspending Blues defenseman Scott Stevens for two games, while Chicago's Mike Peluso and St. Louis' Kelly Chase each got 10. Both teams were also fined $10,000.


The following years saw the passionate opponents trade wins, with the Blackhawks winning the Norris Division Semifinal (complete with Brent Sutter playing, Darryl assistant coaching, and Duane as a scout) in 1992, while in 1993, the Blues swept the series, winning their final game on an OT goal. Ed Belfour, claiming interference, was so incensed that he ended up causing thousands of dollars' worth of damage to the St. Louis visitors' dressing room by breaking a coffeemaker, hot tub, and television, just to name a few.
Things settled down a little bit after that, even seeing Hull and Belfour winning the Cup together in 1999 with the Dallas Stars. But you can't keep a good rivalry down for long, and by the early 2010s, tempers were back in full force when the Hawks came back from a series deficit of 2-0 to beat the Blues 4-2 in the opening round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. They met again in the first round of the 2016 playoffs, and as history is want to repeat itself, it was the Blues turn to win, and so they did; 3-2 in Game 7 with a goal by former Blackhawk Troy Brouwer.

With their win last night, the Blues lead the season series 2-0, with two more games to go. The Hawks will be in St. Louis, again, in less than a month, and the Blues will visit Chicago in their final match-up at the end of March.
As is the nature of sports, every team will go through periods of ebb and flow. The Blackhawks may be struggling, now, but we are starting to see signs of blueprints for a better future. The Blues aren't doing as well as they would like, either, sitting 2 spots out of a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. But while players, coaches, staff, and even arenas may change, the history remains the same. Playoffs for both teams will come again, and along with them, almost 60 years of classic hockey rivalry.

POLL
March 12   |   110 answers
The Hawks and The Blues: Rivals for Life

Who's your favorite Chicago rival?

Blues2320.9 %
Wild1715.5 %
Red Wings5247.3 %
Other1816.4 %
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