|Pictured above - Ted Kennedy, Sid Smith and Tod Sloan|
Most hockey teams, going back to the “Original Six” days (prior to 1967) had some outstanding forward lines. And in those days, many of those lines had a great “nickname”.
A few that come to muind off the top of my head are the Montreal “Punch Line (I wasn’t around, but my Dad spoke of them constantly when I was a child) of “Toe” Blake, "Rocket" Richard and Elmer Lach. The Red Wings had the “Production Line” (Lindsay, Abel and Howe), also before my time.
The old Boston Bruins had the famous “Kraut Line” of Schmidt, Bauer and Dumart. Interestingly, Hall-of-Famer Milt Schmidt later became the Bruins GM and coach. He may well have been the guy who helped sign and bring Bobby Orr to
Boston (really, the Oshawa Generals, ’s “farm” team, as a 14 year-old in about 1963). Boston
The Leaf had the Original “Kid Line “ of Primeau, Conacher and Jackson but those much older than I would have to step forward to speak with knowledge of how good they were.
There were others, I know, including the trio pictured above Ted Kennedy, Sid Smith and Ted Sloan. That line helped the Leafs win the Stanley Cup in 1951. (Sloan went on to help Chicago with the Cup in 1961. I believe Smith was later captain of the Whitby Dunlops who won the World championship in 1958.)
In “my” lifetime, the Maple Leafs have, in truth, not had that many “great” lines— and few with any nick names that really lasted . Red Kelly played with Frank Mahovlich and Bobby Nevin in the very early 1960s, but that didn’t last all that long after Mahovlich’s 48-goal season in 1960-‘61. Keon and Duff were sometimes linemates in the early ‘60s but not always with a particular third guy, as I recall. In the 1970s, Sittler, Lanny McDonald and Errol Thompson (then “Tiger” Williams) had wonderful chemistry and produced a lot of goals for the blue and white.
In that era, other markets rejoiced behind, for example, Shutt, Lemaire and Lafleur in
Montreal, Gillies, Trottier and Bossy on the Island and the “Triple Crown Line” in LA (Taylor, Simmer and Dionne), among others. But the Leafs have rarely had a line that stayed together for a long time, even since, or was so good that it naturally led to the media invoking a special “name”.
I may well be forgetting a particular Leaf line that was a standout (I know briefly we had versions of a “Kid Line” in the ‘70s/’80s, with Laurie Boschman, John Anderson and Rocky Saganiuk and later Russ Courtnall, Wendel Clark and Gary Leeman ("The Hound Line"?), I think it was. But we can’t really argue that there was longevity for those troikas.
If I’ve missed some great Leaf lines, please remind me. But more to the point, who do you think will be the next great Maple Leaf forward line?
It’s a good time of year to do this. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.