The Chicago Blackhawks have some of the most historic rivalries in National Hockey League history. Although many of them are in the past, the Blackhawks have earned plenty of enemies in the last decade with their three Stanley Cups in six seasons.
Here are the top three current rivals of the Blackhawks.
St. Louis Blues
Although it can be argued that this is a historic rivalry, the strife between the Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues is alive and well today. Alongside the Detroit Red Wings, the Blues are considered to be one of the Blackhawks’ greatest foes. The Blues are the enemy now, and Blackhawks fans love it.
Patrick Kane agrees as he told Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times, “I think it’s great. In the past, you could say Detroit was our No. 1 rival, but that’s probably kind of faded away since they moved to the [Eastern Conference]. You see it growing with St. Louis because they are in our division. We’ve had a couple of playoff series against them. There [is] some hatred and animosity there between the two cities, the fans, players, whatever you want to say. It’s definitely grown.” (from ‘Playoff series pushes Blackhawks-Blues rivalry to a new level’ – Chicago Sun-Times – 4/21/16).
The Blackhawks and Blues have met in the playoffs several times, but the perfect example of the rivalry took place in the opening round of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. Former Blackhawk Troy Brouwer destroyed Chicago’s hopes of repeating as champions when he scored the game-winning goal in Game 7.
Despite the animosity on the ice, the tension disappears off the ice. Former Blues captain David Backes told the Chicago Tribune back in 2014, “One of the special things about this game is there is a respect factor that needs to be there to preserve safety and have a hard competition on the ice but off the ice be able to shake hands, have a cold drink and reminisce about the great battle you had.” (from ‘Blackhawks and Blues Appreciate Strong Rivalry’ – Chicago Tribune – 10/25/14).
Near the end of the 2017-18 season when the Blackhawks were out of playoff contention, they had one mission: ruin the Blues’ playoff chances. The Blues were close to the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, and the Blackhawks had the opportunity to knock them out of the playoffs.
Kane told Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times: ‘‘It’d be nice to see them miss the playoffs, so it would be nice to have a hand in that.’’ (from ‘Blackhawks now have one goal: to ruin the rival Blues’ season’ – Chicago Sun-Times – 4/1/18).
Although it took the Blues’ final game of the season against the Colorado Avalanche to seal their fate, the Hawks still played a role in it. This goes to show that no matter what, there will always be hatred between these two teams.
The rivalry with the Nashville Predators is slightly different. There is plenty of tension between players and history to make these teams hate each other, but that’s not the core of the animosity.
Like the Blues, there is still some respect among players. P.K. Subban spoke to Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times when he was traded to the Predators, “Chicago’s a great team,” he said. “It’s been definitely a growing rivalry in the league and obviously I’ve played in games like this before — Montreal and Boston. But for me, it’s just a start of a new season. I look forward to comparing the rivalries, for sure, from East to West.”
Jonathan Toews even gave the Predators credit when they swept Chicago in the first round of the 2017 playoffs. He told Lazerus: “I think it’s insulting to not give that team credit for how well they played, and how they played us specifically,” Toews said. “They were relentless.” (from ‘Hawks’ season comes to stunning end as Predators finish sweep’ – Chicago Sun-Times – 4/21/17).
The real beef is among the fans. Go on Twitter when these teams meet, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. These two fan bases hate each other. From Nashville-based publications writing about how their fans are better than Blackhawks fans to brawls at games, the animosity makes for a pretty entertaining rivalry.
The Coyotes have been frequent trade partners with the Blackhawks for the past few years, creating more of a fun rivalry dynamic. Many former Blackhawks are on the Coyotes like Niklas Hjalmarson, Jordan Oesterle, Antti Raanta, Nick Schmaltz, and Vinnie Hinostroza. They also have players native to the Chicago area like Christian Dvorak and Christian Fischer.
The Blackhawks also have former Coyotes players like Dylan Strome and Connor Murphy. It’s always fun to see how the former players from each team play against each other. Hinostroza tallied three assists against the Blackhawks this year, Schmaltz had two assists and one goal, and Oesterle had one assist. Strome had one goal against the Coyotes, and Murphy had one assist.
With the strong presence of Chicago-born players on the Coyotes’ roster, it’s natural that the players are excited to play at the United Center. As Hinostroza, who is from Chicago and used to play for the Blackhawks, told NHL.com, “You always thought of, as a kid, going to the Blackhawks games and watching it on TV that one day you’d play in the NHL. I definitely don’t take it for granted every time I get to come to this rink and play here.”
Blackhawks players also enjoy traveling to the Gila River Arena because of the strong presence of Chicago natives in the Phoenix area, as Strome told NHL.com, “There’s a lot of Blackhawks fans here, it should be fun.”
The rivalry has escalated as the Coyotes have improved over the past few seasons, and it will only grow when they are moved to the Central Division at the start of the 2021-22 season. With so many players who have played for both teams, this is a rivalry that is just getting started.
The Blackhawks have made plenty of enemies as they’ve dominated the NHL this past decade. Some are pure hatred, some are based out of respect, and some are mainly between fans. Either way, they make for some of the most captivating rivalries in the league.