Detroit Red Wings

Blackhawks help Detroit Red Wings in fight against coronavirus

Blackhawks help Detroit Red Wings in fight against coronavirus

While hockey is on hold, The Blackhawks have put rivalries aside to join the fight against COVID-19.

According to a report from ESPN, General Motors reached out to their local team, the Detroit Red Wings, for help making face masks for people who are still at work. GM wanted an equipment sanitizing machine, as it would boost its capacity to produce the face masks.

"What we use them in the sports industry for is killing the bacteria and making that wonderful sports odor go away,” Paul Boyer, the Red Wings' head equipment manager said via ESPN. “You put anything in it that touches the skin: skates, shoulder pads, helmets. They're designed to sanitize an entire bag of hockey equipment in one shot."

But the Red Wings couldn’t help. When they opened Little Caesars Arena in 2017, they built the equipment sanitation machine into the stadium, so it couldn’t be lent out. So Boyer reached out to five other equipment managers to see if they could help, according to ESPN.

Two teams came through: the Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers.

Rob Portugaise, GM’s executive director of manufacturing and lifelong hockey fan, was not surprised by the outreach.

“Hockey has a reputation for this, right?” Portugaise said via ESPN. “For being close-knit and helping out the community. To be able to witness it firsthand was really exciting. It was all done very quickly. The only thing they asked for was a shipping address."

With the extra hockey machines, GM is now able to make three million face masks per month, according to ESPN. All of those masks will go to workers in Michigan, but if they can increase their capacity again, they’ll look into helping other states, as well.

“You hear stories,” Portugaise said. “But this just gave me more appreciation for the hockey community.”

“It was an absolute godsend.”

RELATED: NHL reportedly focused on resuming games in league arenas, not neutral sites

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Blackhawks can't afford letdown in Detroit: ‘We need every point we can get’

Blackhawks can't afford letdown in Detroit: ‘We need every point we can get’

The Blackhawks had a grueling travel schedule in February, which featured 11 of 14 games on the road. They wrapped up the month with back-to-back wins in Tampa Bay and Florida and knew they would head back to Chicago with a chance to take advantage of some home cooking.

So far, so good.

After beating Anaheim and Edmonton to kick off a stretch in March where they play 11 of 15 games at the United Center, the Blackhawks have rattled off four consecutive wins and find themselves lurking in the Western Conference playoff picture again. The four teams ahead of them are all separated by one point.

The Blackhawks have a prime opportunity to match their season-long winning streak of five games on Friday, but it’s important not to overlook a Detroit Red Wings team that has, by far, a league-worst 35 points this season before they return to Chicago to host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.

"Absolutely, great point," Patrick Kane said following Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Oilers. "We can really kind of string something together and we knew at some point we were going to have to go on some type of run. Once again, this is a tough league. Anyone can win on any given night. We have to make sure we don’t take the team lightly tomorrow because obviously they have a lot of players fighting for jobs and looking for positions next year on their team. Can’t take them lightly."

How can the Blackhawks avoid a potential letdown? It's simple.

"We’ve got to realize that we that we need every point we can get and we can take nothing for granted," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We’re far from the type of a team that can just show up, lace them up and think it’s just going to happen. We have to show the same work ethic and commitment every shift, and if we do that we’ll have a great chance at two points."

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Rebuild? Blackhawks not ready to tear it down like Red Wings just yet

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USA Today

Rebuild? Blackhawks not ready to tear it down like Red Wings just yet

For two and a half decades, the Detroit Red Wings were the gold standard of hockey. They made the playoffs 25 years in a row from 1990-2016 and, over that span, went to eight Western Conference Finals, appeared in six Stanley Cup Finals and won four of them. 

Perhaps the most impressive part is the fact the Red Wings didn't skip a beat when the salary cap was introduced during the 2005-06 season. They replenished their core group multiple times and went from one Hall of Fame coach (Scotty Bowman) to another (Mike Babcock).

But the circle of life in the salary cap world has finally caught up to the Red Wings, who are in a full-on rebuild and on the verge of missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season. They're on pace to finish with only 45 points. To put that into perspective, the Blackhawks are currently sitting at 42 points. And there are still 40 games left.

The Blackhawks were the baby brother to the Red Wings in the Central Division for a long time before taking control of the entire NHL in 2009, which was the start of a stretch where the Blackhawks made the playoffs nine years in a row, reached the Western Conference Final five times and won three Stanley Cups. They followed the path of the Red Wings.

But now the Blackhawks find themselves at a similar crossroads as their longtime rivals. Do they try keeping the window open with this core group for as long as possible or revamp the roster to the point where starting from scratch makes more sense?

The Blackhawks are stuck in between.

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are still at the top of their games at age 31. Duncan Keith is 36 but has a lot of good hockey left in him. Corey Crawford just turned 35, but Robin Lehner is the perfect successor and he’s only 28.

When the Red Wings made the playoffs one final time before it ended in 2016-17, Pavel Datsyuk was 37, Henrik Zetterberg was 35 and Niklas Kronwall was 35. Zetterberg led the team with 50 points with Datsyuk right behind at 49. Dylan Larkin was the only prospect the Red Wings could feel good about as a potential franchise-changer and he was 19 at the time. It was time for the organization to tear it down and it was probably long overdue, but the playoff streak became important to the franchise.

The Blackhawks aren’t there yet. And even if they wanted to, it would be difficult to execute a rebuild because of all the player-controlled contracts.

The Blackhawks are fortunate to be in a position where they have a couple of promising young players in Adam Boqvist and Kirby Dach, both of whom have grown into larger roles during their rookie season as teenagers. They are part of the next core, along with Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome, both of whom are 22. The organization should feel good about that.

But right now the Blackhawks should be maximizing what this current group can do without taking away from the long-term developments of their new core because at some point they're hoping the veterans performing at a high level will coincide with the younger players hitting their prime. And that’s what they’re trying to do, which makes the city of Chicago impatient with the Blackhawks in danger of missing the playoffs for the third straight season.

It might not get as dark as the Red Wings anytime soon, but the Blackhawks don't have to look very far to see what it could look like if their tires keep spinning without going forward.

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