What could be a super cool, geographically-proximal Ohio vs. Michigan rivalry has fallen flat over the last few seasons due to the Red Wings inability to catch a break - or be good in general.
This is a bummer for me in particular - I was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, specifically in Toledo’s northernmost suburb of Sylvania, which sits right on the border of Michigan’s cornfields and terrible, bumpy roads. I’ve never been to a Red Wings game in Detroit, but it’s exactly a 60-minute drive from my driveway to Comerica Park, where I went to tons of Tigers games as a kid, and I’ve always had a deep affinity for Detroit in general - it’s Toledo, but bigger and cooler, with Tigers and Red Wings instead of Mud Hens and Walleyes.
Also, Gordie Howe’s son, Dr. Murray Howe, lives just down the street from my childhood home, and Gordie lived with him for the last few years of his life. My high school job was scooping ice cream, and my coworkers and I would fight in the back room over who got to serve Gordie his strawberry ice cream when he’d come into the shop with Murray and his grandkids. I can’t say I was a hockey fan growing up, but I would have identified as a Red Wings fan if asked, just because Gordie Howe was a local legend and the Howe family members are some of the nicest people you could ever know. Also, I will forever be tickled by the fact that Alan Ruck wears his Howe jersey for the majority of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Anyways, this is why it personally pains me that this rivalry hasn’t been a ton of fun as of late, because it has tons of potential to be cool - the Red Wings have just had a tough few seasons.
The Jackets dusted the Red Wings in their three meet-ups in the 19-20 season, scoring a combined 12 goals to the Red Wings’ seven, with the February 7 game being a shut-out, Elvis’s fifth in an eight-game span. Ah, good times.
However, the odds weren’t always in our favor - I dug back in the archives to remember how badly it sucked that this rivalry used to tip very much in the other direction. Ryan Real puts it best in a November 2017 article:
“Teams rise and fall over the course of time, naturally, but it’s hard to express how much a decade of constant losing to a dynastic team from Michigan sucked. Detroit fans filling up Nationwide for an almost-guaranteed win. A now-forgotten Wings blog calling the Jackets “Ken Hitchcock’s easy BJ’s” resonates years later. Columbus grabbing its first ever playoff berth, only to be smushed like an particularly excited bug.”
There are certainly a lot of factors at play, but the crux of it is that the Red Wings team that swept the Jackets in the playoffs in 2009 are now not even eligible for a 2020 playoff spot - even with 24 slots available. The Red Wings experienced a quick fall from grace in the last few years of their franchise, and they have some rebuilding to do before they’ll be formidable foes for the Jackets - or anyone - again.
However, the overall series record between teams certainly has some good highlights. Pale Dragon made sure I was going to mention this one, so here it is: “The Point Seen ‘Round The World.”
Amazing, hilarious stuff from Vinny Prospal. Ryan Real also covered this iconic misconduct in a 2013 article, which you can read here.
What’s your favorite rivalry moment between the Red Wings and the Blue Jackets, and how do you think this rivalry will evolve in the future? Sound off in the comments!