When Quenneville got to town, the Detroit Red Wings were still the Blackhawks’ chief rival, as the two were still Central Division foes. The St. Louis Blues, like the Blackhawks, were slowly beginning a return to relevance, and therefore an enhanced rivalry with Chicago. And then there was the Vancouver Canucks.
It’s obvious why this rivalry took off, but the vitriolic nature of it and how quickly it went from pure hatred to shoulder-shrugging annoyance makes it among the strangest things involving the Blackhawks in recent years.
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Three straight years of playoff matchups did their part in building the rivalry, but the regular-season games were often out of control from 2008 through 2011. Guys sounded off in the media against the opposition, on both sides. Hell, Alain Vigneault took a big swipe at Dave Bolland after the latter jabbed at Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin in 2011.
“When you have comments like Bolland’s, obviously (he’s) an individual whose IQ is probably the size of a bird seed, and he has a face only a mother could look at.”
And this was in the middle of a season, between a coach and a player. Everything about this rivalry was so strange, but it sure made for some entertaining moments.
Kim Johnsson disappears
Johnsson was a veteran blueliner with Minnesota when he was acquired by the Blackhawks in February 2010. Leddy wasn’t NHL-ready at this point, but the 33-year-old Johnsson certainly was. He quickly jumped into the Blackhawks’ lineup, playing eight games and recording three points.
And then he was gone, literally never to be seen on the ice again. If you think the Blackhawks are hush-hush about injuries now, Johnsson’s issue was on another level. He apparently suffered a concussion, but you would’ve been hard-pressed to know that as a Blackhawks fan. Johnsson was just kind of swept away after getting hurt.
What makes this even stranger was the concussion seemingly ended Johnsson’s career, and he never played hockey again. Maybe that’s why the Blackhawks were so quiet about it? Regardless, it’s an odd series of events.
Next: A Big Man And A Stumble