Could NHL realignment reunite the Blackhawks and Red Wings?

ESPN’s Emily Kaplan has an interesting realignment suggestion that could make it so.

One of the things that’s been weird about covering the Blackhawks is that I never got to do it when they were in the same division as the Red Wings. That beloved rivalry stands out to so many fans around Illinois and Michigan, but when the NHL realigned in 2013, the two teams were split apart for the first time.

It’s been a tad frustrating because, I mean, who doesn’t love a good rivalry? As much as we love going back and forth with our pals foes in St. Louis, there’s just something missing when the Blackhawks and Red Wings can’t play meaningful games for hockey supremacy.

Except, maybe they could be reunited! ESPN’s Emily Kaplan wrote a fun article Monday breaking down how realignment might work with the addition of a franchise in Seattle,  and it includes a few very interesting wrinkles for Blackhawks fans.

Here’s the new “Norris Division” from Kaplan:

Notice a few things there? First, the Red Wings are back from the Eastern Conference! Second, the Coyotes move over from the old Pacific Division, which needs to make room for Seattle while staying at eight teams. And finally, the Predators — an emerging rival for the Hawks — move to the “Patrick Division” as the team from the old Central located furthest to the east.

This would be a major change for the Blackhawks. You’d have two new teams in the division, including a Coyotes franchise that’s apparently staying in Arizona in this scenario despite the ongoing issues there.

Alex DeBrincat, a Michigan native, liked the idea when shown it, which probably isn’t surprising. “I know how much history there is with Blackhawks and the Red Wings,” DeBrincat said. “It would be cool to bring that back.”

Patrick Kane was also happy about the possibility of the Red Wings returning to the division, although he was also disappointed that it would cost the Hawks the chance to regularly face Nashville.

Here’s my immediate take here: THIS IS AN AMAZING IDEA!!!

You’re telling me the NHL would move the Predators, a well-managed team with an extremely bright future, and the additions would be the Coyotes and the Red Wings???  Sign me up!

It’s an interesting idea to think about because the addition of a 32nd franchise almost certainly will require realignment if it’s in Seattle. That wouldn’t necessarily mean an overhaul as significant as what Kaplan suggests, but her article also makes a lot of sense. If the team is in Houston, then it’s likely the NHL would just add it to the Central and call it a day.

But Seattle would require bigger changes, and that could mean reuniting the Blackhawks and Red Wings in the same division again. I’d be in favor of that, and I imagine a lot of other fans would be, too.