The St. Louis Blues renew their rivalry with the Chicago Blackhawks early in the 2017-18 season. However, regardless of recent success, there is still the image of inferiority.
The St. Louis Blues are considered a small market team in the grand scheme of things. We don’t think of ourselves as being one of the minnows, but when simply comparing money flow and population, the Blues don’t have the advantages of some of their rivals.
The Chicago Blackhawks are a prime example. They have a larger stadium, potentially a larger following (especially with the bandwagon fans but let us not speak of that) and an ownership group that opened their checkbooks to lock up some of the game’s biggest stars.
The St. Louis Blues have a star of their own, which they were smart enough to lock up for a good while. Even so, there is always this perception that the Blues are playing catch up. It always seems like they are the little brother to the Blackhawks.
Even back in the team’s start the image was founded early. If not for the owners of the Chicago Blackhawks, the Blues might not exist.
Arthur Wirtz owned both the Blackhawks and the St. Louis Arena (along with James Norris) at the time of NHL expansion. He influenced the league to give a team to St. Louis instead of Baltimore, mainly in an effort to rid himself of an already aging arena.
So, at their birth the Blues were already looking up at the Blackhawks. It would be some time before that would even think about changing.
The Blues began in 1967-68. It was not until 1966-67 that St. Louis won a regular season series against the Hawks.
Even then, it was a blip on the screen. The Blues finished 6-6-1 in 1981-82 and 4-3-1 in 1983-84. All other seasons prior and between were taken by Chicago.
1987-88 was the year that turned things around. Not coincidentally, that was around when Brett Hull arrived as well. (On a side note, how fitting was it for this rivalry to have the son of one of Chicago’s most famous players end up in St. Louis?)
That season started two straight years of winning, a playoff series win and five of seven years where the Blues won the regular season series. It was not a fluke or due to Chicago being down.
The Blackhawks had some awesome teams in the early 90’s that really put the rivalry into overdrive. From 1988 through 1993, the Blues faced Chicago every year in the playoffs except one. The Blues started to shed the image just a little bit.
More from Editorials
- St. Louis Blues Need Kasperi Kapanen To Be On Best Behavior
- Hayes’ Debut And Other Bold Predictions for the St. Louis Blues
- St. Louis Blues Captaincy Is Suddenly A Huge Problem For 2023-24
- St. Louis Blues National Games Cause More Problems Than They’re Worth
- St. Louis Blues Brayden Schenn Has To Be An Impact Player In 2023-24
It would not happen again until the spring of 2001. After that it was just as long a wait until 2014. By then, things had changed.
The Blues were the dominant team in the early 2000’s. Then Chicago took the league over while the Blues were struggling in the late 2000’s and early 10’s.
Now that both teams are good again, the rivalry has regained its place in the league. Unfortunately that little brother image returned as well.
No matter how well the Blues do, they seem to always get that pat on the head from condescending Blackhawks fans. That smug little reaction of you’ll get there someday champ or the constant reminder of how they’ve won more than you.
That feeling that the NHL and NBC Sports, the league’s current national television partner, share that mentality is aggravating as well. Still, that’s part of rivalries and why we enjoy the NHL.
The league’s current set up allows for enough player movement to keep free agency viable without having revolving doors for each team. There are enough Blues and Blackhawks that have been in each city to truly know what the rivalry is now. That makes it much more fun.
Even if they want to discount the accomplishment, like any little brother knows, it was sweet to defeat them. That game 7 win a couple years ago could only have been eclipsed if the team had won it all.
It’s up to the Blues to shed the rest of the image. A win in the season’s first game between the two would be a good step.
Maybe we will always be Chicago’s little brother in terms of image. The truth of the matter is the Blues have more playoff wins the last few seasons. Chicago can talk about their rings and point to the trophy case, but that just keeps little brother hungry.