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For this year only, put the Chicago Blackhawks back in the Norris Division

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Doug Wilson #24, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)
Doug Wilson #24, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images) /
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The NHL’s return to play was a success, and it was fun watching the Chicago Blackhawks but now the league has to figure out how to manage the 2020-2021 season.

How can the league make this upcoming season the best possible experience? Here’s an idea for Gary Bettman, bring back the Norris Division. Put the Blackhawks back in a division that is only rivalries. In fact, do the same thing for every division. Pack’em with rivalries on purpose. We all want it, and since the divisions would be temporary this year, let’s make this happen.

Right now, the NHL is considering a shortened season and temporarily re-aligning the divisions to accommodate the on-going pandemic. If this comes to fruition, put the Chicago Blackhawks back in the Norris Division. It’s the least the league can do to help make things fun to watch this season.

C’mon, everyone wants to see Chicago square up against Detroit. What would the NFL be if the Bears and Packers didn’t play each other? We’re all missing this in the NHL because the league broke up a classic rivalry and let Detroit pretend like the Motor City is part of the East Coast. Nuts to that.

Playing St. Louis is fun and all, but we need all the hockey hostility back in the central division. Nashville’s “Keeping the Red Out” campaign pales compared to the hate from back in the day. Detroit, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Toronto, YES!

Toss in Winnipeg, Nashville, and Dallas and that could be absolutely fantastic. Based on 2019-2020, Toronto and Dallas would likely compete for the top spot in the division, but who cares. Everyone would want to see dysfunctional teams like Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, and St. Louis antagonize each other for the shortened season.

It would be a tournament of the best of the worst, and a chance to stoke the embers of the classic rivalries. Sure, championships are fun and all, but so is game after game after game of fiercely intense hockey. Let them really go after each other since none of these games will matter much, and the teams won’t be competing for any meaningful hardware anyway.

The league needs to make this happen. Please.

I know, I know, the league has started drifting away from the carnage that used to be a regular component of ice hockey. We don’t necessarily need the fights, and the enforcers from back in the day have hung up their skates anyway. Guys like Stu Grimson, Wendel Clark, and Bob Probert are long gone. We do, however, want those savagely intense games. The animosity was real, and you didn’t even need the playoffs.

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No one knows when exactly the season is going to begin, nor does anyone have any idea how many games are going to be played. What we do know is that the league wants a season, but not one like the NHL’s summer extravaganza. When things finally do resume, let’s hope the league is willing to have some fun and bring back the old divisions. Why stop at retro uniforms? Go all the way and have a retro-style league. You know want to do it, Bettman.

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