Anybody who knows the movie "Slap Shot" might think happy days are here again.

It's not quite that, at least, not on the ice, but the NHL made it official on Sunday: The Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks are back in the same division again, for at least the 2020-2021 season.

The league has realigned the teams geographically as part of the plan to try and play during the pandemic, and with that, a shortened 56-game season which begins on January 13th. Canada isn't letting teams cross their border, (British Columbia doesn't even want games to be played there, at all.) so all the Canadian teams are grouped into one division.

But for long time hockey fans, the good news is, there will be a season. With the K-Wings opting out this year, and WMU playing in a bubble in Omaha, this is going to be like a glass of water in the desert to area hockey fans.

Another bonus, due to the realignment, there will be a lot of "rivalry" games. Not only do you have Red Wings-Blackhawks, but also Toronto-Montreal, Boston-New York, Pittsburgh-Washington. The downside for our local teams is reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning are in the "Central" division. And the rebuilding Blackhawks and Red Wings are probably on the outside looking in for the upcoming playoffs, as there are four strong teams in this newly formed division.

But for anyone who grew up here loving hockey, the memories go back almost a century on Chicago-Detroit battles. And the teams' DNA is also intermingled as the two teams were essentially co-owned by the Norris family in the middle of the last century.

In 1961, the Blackhawks beat the Wings at the Olympia in Detroit, during a blizzard, to win the Cup. And in the '90s, when both teams were pretty competitive, there were several epic playoff battles, a run that would last well into the new century, with the most recent one (and final one, before Detroit moved to the East) being 2013, when a Brent Seabrook slapshot in Game 7 overtime past Jimmy Howard sent the Hawks to the conference final.

The game has changed in the past twenty years, to where now fighting is rare. This isn't going to be a return to the days of Bob Probert (who played for both teams, as did many other legends, including Hall of Famers Chris Chelios, Ted Lindsay, and goaltender Glenn Hall.) but anytime a Detroit team and a Chicago team strap 'em on, it's just a little more special.

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