(MCT) — If reports of NHL realignment come to pass, the Blackhawks will be separated from their Original Six rival Red Wings beginning next season.
According to ESPN, in the proposed alignment that still needs approval from the NHLPA and NHL’s Board of Governors, the Hawks would remain in the Western Conference while the Wings and Blue Jackets would shift to the Eastern.
Teams would play home and away games against every other team in the league so the Hawks and Wings still would face each other, just not as many times as in recent seasons. The Central Division foes have four showdowns during this lockout-shortened campaign, including Sunday in Detroit, but normally meet six times. And if the teams were to collide in the postseason, it would be in the Stanley Cup Final — an event that surely would add fuel to the always entertaining rivalry.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said even if the teams play in different conferences and only square off twice per season, the rivalry will remain.
“It’s a team that always has been tough to contend with every single year,” Quenneville said of the Wings. “It’s a powerhouse organization. Over the course of time here they’ve been dominating a lot of time.
“The rivalry, I still don’t think it will go away,” Quenneville added. “If it does happen that they’re on the other side ... the Blackhawks and Detroit will always be a special rivalry and a special game.”
The Hawks and Wings first played against each other Nov. 24, 1926 (a 1-0 Wings victory at Chicago Coliseum) and have faced off 722 times during the regular season since the NHL began with six teams.
According to ESPN, here is the proposed realignment, which CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada” first reported.
Atlantic Division: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington.
Central Division: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto.
Pacific Division: Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver.
Mid-West Division: Blackhawks, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.