This week started and ended with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings. These two teams have shared their timeline from the very beginning, and on October 21, 2000, they both played their 5,000th NHL games. As the fourth and fifth teams added to the NHL’s “Original Six,” they became the fourth and fifth teams to reach 5,000 games.
During the eighth game of the season, the Blackhawks lost and the Red Wings won, but they did not play each other. The Blackhawks were shutout (1-0) at the Savvis Center in St. Louis. The Red Wings stayed home at the Joe Louis Arena, where they scored on the Buffalo Sabres in overtime to win 5-4. To add to Detroit’s celebrations, Nicklas Lidstrom’s two assists brought him up to 500 points, making him the third European NHL defenseman to reach that milestone. The 2000-01 season continued in this fashion, with the Blackhawks finishing fourth in the Central Division and the Red Wings finishing first.
The Chicago and Detroit franchises began together. At a NHL meeting held on April 16, 1926, new franchises, including Chicago and Detroit, were proposed. Two weeks later, the NHL approved these two franchises. They both received players from teams made defunct by the collapse of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL). Many players of the Portland Rosebuds came to play for Chicago, while Detroit purchased the Victoria Cougars (and actually had to play in Canada until they constructed their own rink). The Blackhawks won their first game in the NHL by defeating the Toronto St. Patricks (4-1) on November 17, 1926. The following day, Detroit (still called the Cougars) lost to the Boston Bruins (2-0). Detroit would not win until their third game, against the Blackhawks. For that first season, Chicago fared better overall (19-22-3) than Detroit (12-28-4).
At this point, the Red Wings have pulled ahead of the Blackhawks. In the 735 games they have played against each other, Detroit has won 368, Chicago has won 283, and they left 84 games tied. That meant that the Red Wings earned 834 points to the Blackhawks’ 661 points. In addition, the Red Wings have appeared in the playoffs two more times than the Blackhawks but have won almost twice as many championships (11 for the Red Wings, 6 for the Blackhawks). Two of the six finals Chicago won by defeating the Red Wings. However, both teams look to have long futures in which they can keep the competition between them going.
- Stephen Laroche, Changing the Game: A History of NHL Expansion (Toronto: ECW Press, 2014), 7-10, 35-44.