Hockey players usually do not have the flashiest nicknames. For every "Grim Reaper" or "Mr. Hockey" you have many players whose nicknames basically consist of a "y" or "er" added to the end of their real name.
One could argue that this is not a bad thing; that it encourages a team identity more than a "hey look at me" environment where the players seem to be more important than the team. The other argument is that hockey players are just a boring and unoriginal lot. I prefer to think it is the former.
With that being said, sometimes a line will come together for a period of time and jell to the point where they will be given a nickname and become readily identifiable by that nickname for the rest of the careers and through NHL history.
What follows are the ten greatest line nicknames in NHL history.
Adam Oates and Brett Hull came together for parts of three seasons with the St. Louis Blues during the early 1990’s. The duo, in a play on the name of the musical duo Hall and Oates, picked up the nickname of Hull and Oates.
The two were a perfect match. Oates was one of the best "assist men" in the game and Hull had a knack for putting the puck in the back of the net.
Oates hit the 100-point mark in 1990 and 1991, while Hull put up a career-high 131 points in 1991.
The duo was broken up during the 1992 season when Oates was dealt to the Boston Bruins.
When the oldest player on a line is 23 years old, the name "The Kid Line" seems fitting.
The trio of Charlie Conacher, Harvey Jackson and Joe Primeau had a combined age of 59 when they came together in the 1930s for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Conacher was the old man of the group at 23, while the other two players were 18.
The trio would lead the Leafs to the 1932 Stanley Cup, sweeping the New York Rangers three games to zero in the five-game series.
All three members of the Kid Line are enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The nickname has been used since, but Conacher, Jackson and Primeau will always be the originals.
The Triple Crown line is the most famous line in the history of the Los Angeles Kings.
The trio of Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor and Charlie Simmer came together for the first time on January 13, 1979. The line would stay together until October 24, 1984 when Simmer was sent to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a first-round draft pick.
During the 1981 season all three players would finish in the top seven in scoring. Dionne would finish second to only Wayne Gretzky (putting up 135 points), while Taylor would rack up 112 and Simmer 105.
Unfortunately for the Kings and their fans the team was not extremely deep once you got past the top line and the Triple Crown Line would never make it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Million Dollar Line was composed of Bobby Hull, Bill Hay and Murray Balfour.
The reason for the name was simple. Hull and Hay were two of the higher paid NHL players during at the time and when Balfour was traded to the ‘Hawks from the Montreal Canadiens for straight cash, the name fit.
The Million Dollar Line would pay dividends in 1961 when the trio helped the team win the Stanley Cup.
The Crash Line didn’t have a single "glamour player" on it.
In fact, if you wanted three players that epitomized the look of the "hard-nosed hockey player", Bobby Holik, Mike Peluso and Randy McKay would be perfect choices.
The line was intimidating in both size and demeanor. Peluso checked in at 6’4” and 225 pounds; Holik stood the same height, but weighed in at 240 pounds; and McKay was the runt of the line, at 6’2” and 210 pounds.
The trio did the dirty work for the Devils en route to the team’s 1995 Stanley Cup victory.
They may not have been the most glamorous line on the team, nor did they run up the most ice time. However, they made their presence felt and it is doubtful that the Devils would have been as well-rounded had they not had Holik, Peluso and McKay to take care of business when things got a little chippy.
There are times when a line’s nickname is just perfect. The Detroit Red Wings' “Production Line” of Gordie Howe, Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay is one of those perfect names. It perfectly captured the essence of those particular three players, and of the automobile manufacturing economy in Detroit.
If you need proof that the nickname was right on the money, check the scoring stats for the 1950 NHL season. That year, the three members of the Production Line finished first, second and third in scoring. Lindsay led the way with 78 points, followed by Abel’s 69 and Howe’s 68.
All three members of the Production Line have had their numbers retired by the Red Wings and they have plaques hanging in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
When three players of German descent played on the same line during the 1930s and 1940s, the nickname of “The Kraut Line” was not surprising.
Interestingly, the trio that made up the Boston Bruins’ Kraut Line—Milt Schmidt, Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer—all grew up together in Kitchener, Ontario. The three would play several NHL seasons after joining the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II.
All three members of the line are enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame, while Schmidt has the added honor of having his number retired by the Bruins.
The Detroit Red Wings have had some famous lines in their past and one of the most beloved was “The Grind Line.”
The Grind Line was originally made up of Kris Draper, Joe Kocur and Kirk Maltby. Kocur, who was never anyone’s idea of a scorer, would eventually be replaced by Darren McCarty.
Much like the New Jersey’s Devils “Crash Line,” Draper, McCarty and Maltby were the "in your face" line. They were sent out to do the dirty work—play in the corners, match up against their opponents' top offensive talents, and basically grind the opposition down.
The Grind Line would be part of four Stanley Cup-winning teams.
For seven seasons the line of Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin and Rene Robert patrolled the ice for the Buffalo Sabres.
The trio, all of French-Canadian descent, were known as The French Connection (taking their name from the 1971 film).
The three came together in 1972. Perreault and Martin were first-round draft picks in 1971 and 1972, while Roberts joined the team via trade during the 1972 season. The three played together until 1979, which was one of the longer lasting lines in NHL history. This may be due to the league being smaller back then, and also because salaries and free agency were not what they are today.
The three combined for 1681 points during their time together. The highlight of those years was their trip to the 1975 Stanley Cup finals, where the Sabres fell to the Philadelphia Flyers in six games.
All three players have had their numbers retired by the team and there are plans to unveil a statue of the trio outside the Sabres home arena (the First Niagara Center) when the NHL season opens on October 12.
The Legion of Doom: An ominous nickname for an ominous trio of players.
Eric Lindros was 6’4” and 240 pounds, John Leclair was 6’ 3” and 235 pounds and Mikael Renberg, the smallest player on the line was 6’ 2” and 220 pounds. For a brief time they ruled the NHL.
Lindros, Leclair and Renberg jelled almost as soon as they were assembled into the Philadelphia Flyers’ top line. During their first season together, they combined for 176 points. This is a number that one would say is fairly unimpressive until you consider they put that number up during the lockout-shortened 1995 season (37 games).
In 1996 they had their best year, racking up 255 points. They followed that up with 235 points in 1997. Following that season Renberg was dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The deal brought Chris Gratton to the Flyers. He was a player who never lived up to the lofty expectations the team had for him.
The Legion of Doom had skill, speed, strength and talent. It was a scary line, defined by Lindros’ fearless play and mean streak (a mean streak that was epitomized by a line he once uttered to an opposing player: “Listen for me, you’ll hear me coming.”) That was a nod to the fact that his size made his skating stride identifiable just by the sound of his blades cutting into the ice.