With all of their great players and success there have been so many great line combinations that have played in Detroit. There are three extra-special lines that really hold a special place in the fans' hearts and memories.
There were two versions of this line. The first, starting in the 1947-48 season, consisted of Gordie Howe, Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay. After five seasons, Abel was traded and Alex Delvecchio replaced him.
The line became the first and only in league history to finish one, two, three in points. They accomplished this feat in 1949-50 when Lindsay (78), Abel (69) and Howe (68) swept the top spots.
They were more than just a one-year hit as well. Howe and Lindsay would finish the season first and second four more times. Beyond that, over 11 seasons all three members would finish in the top 20 in scoring, and eight times and four times all in the top 10.
The team would win four Stanley Cups with the Production Line leading the way. All four players are in the Hall of Fame and have had their numbers retired by the team.
If there is a line that epitomizes a city, then this is that line. Known for tough, gritty, physical play, these players went far beyond a typical checking line. It started with Kris Draper, Joey Kocur and Kirk Maltby. Later Kocur was replaced by Darren McCarty.
This line was called on to shut down the top scorers from the opposition and more often than not they were successful. They were beyond just a checking line and their offensive skills were commonly underrated. McCarty has one of the most memorable goals in team and Stanley Cup Finals history.
They also brought a special energy to the team and fans every time they hit the ice. Between those three players, they were a part of the last four Stanley Cups won by the team.
Sure, a typical line has three players, but this unit was something special. Igor Larionov, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Sergei Fedorov, Vyacheslav Kozlov and Vladimir Konstantinov brought their Russian game to the North American Ice.
These five were among the first wave of Russian players to enter the NHL. With them they brought a different brand of hockey. They were fluid, aggressive and speedy while playing the entire ice.
When Coach Scotty Bowman put them together as one complete unit, it was a brilliant move. The unit helped break the drought for the team when they won the Stanley Cup in 1997. A devastating career-ending injury to Konstantinov terminated the unit; however, the remaining four members helped the team repeat as champions in 1998.
PJ Sapienza is a featured columnist covering the Detroit Red Wings as well as many other sports.
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