(Scott Strazzante / Chicago…)
YOU'RE NOT EVEN CLOSE, CHICAGO
By Sean Ely
Two Original Six teams. Two storied franchises. Two staples in sports branding. Two organizations you can't forget to mention when talking "hockey" in any context.
But when comparing the Detroit Red Wings to the Blackhawks, what you do NOT have is a pair of teams who both have ride-and-die, never-stray-no-matter-what, loyal fan bases who live and breathe professional shinny.
Nah, sorry. In that narrative, only one squad remains worth mentioning. And they wear red and white winged wheels on their chests.
Eleven Stanley Cups. Playoff berths in 27 of the past 29 seasons, including a streak of 22 straight. An NHL record 21 consecutive home ice victories.
The term "Hockeytown" doesn't just materialize out of thin air. You've gotta earn it. A nickname that's created from a team and its city's soul. And Detroit has this loyalty and decades worth of unquestioned talent in spades.
When the Blackhawks weren't winning, tickets were practically given away. Media coverage was bare. Buzz was nonexistent. Bandwagon fans focused on other Windy City teams.
And while the sad and lonely United Center watched its thousands of seats remain empty, Hockeytown flourished. Joe Louis Arena's tattered walls shined as brightly as the ice. The Motor City danced while watching the Red Wings take home Presidents' Trophy after Presidents' Trophy.
Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Sergei Federov, Brendan Shanahan, Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk. These aren't just names thrown around in Detroit. They're legends who burned their legacies into the minds of fans across the globe.
While Detroit hasn't made a habit of sitting atop the leaderboard the past few seasons, every sports-loving human being in America knows it could win the Cup and no one would be surprised. This could be that year.
Even if it isn't, this isn't the year Red Wings fans fall to the wayside because they aren't in first place. That day, I'm sorry to say to Blackhawks "fans," will never become reality.
And during Sunday's game at (sigh) the United Center, I'll be enjoying a coney dog and Little Caesar's Hot 'N Ready pizza while revving my Detroit-made car engine and listening to Kid Rock's "Born Free" with an octopus in my other hand—watching the Red Wings defeat the Hawks for the second time this season.
Hey, hey Hockeytown.
Sean Ely is RedEye's video editor and a Detroit native. @theseanwow
STOP LIVING IN THE PAST, DETROIT
When I was a young warthog, my old man had a saying: "When Detroit wins, America loses."
The Blackhawks-Red Wings rivalry is historic and deservedly so, but while my opponent will talk stats, I'd like to talk smack.
The Detroit Red Wings were the best hockey team on Earth for a while there, stacking Stanley Cups. Then they decided to turn into a retirement home on skates, with so many old players you'd think it was a charity game.
That's not even the worst thing about Red Wings fans. I know Sean will talk bandwagon Hawks fans who still have the tags on their Kane jersey and wouldn't know icing from a wedding cake. Don't worry, we hate them too. When I say "we," I mean the folks who have been there during the dark days and the days when Ed Belfour was in net and Jeremy Roenick was setting the world on fire.
Due to the Blackhawks' rampant damn near flagrant success the past few years, Wings fans have morphed into a sort of cocky older brother, content to keep reminding you that they used to shine in their day. Ooh ahh Yzerman Kid Rock We had Probert first Hockeytown Blah blah blah blah. It'd be cute it didn't make me want to throw up.
Let's be honest here: While I can't stand Wings fans, I do miss them and their team being in the Western Conference if only to see them get beat so hard their Scooby Doo mystery shack of a stadium feels it.
I give them props, but that's where it stops. The new Hockeytown is south by about 300 miles or so. Come see us in June—we should be having a parade around then.
Ernest Wilkins is Chicago's wingman. @ernestwilkins
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