Nicknames. We might be known to our friends by a nickname. Our friends, schools, or work be better recognized by a nickname. Many sports players have a nickname. One of the greatest hockey players of this generation is referred to more by his nickname, the “Great One” than by his birth name is Wayne Gretzky.
Hockey is a sport in which many of the forward lines have nicknames attached to them. Names that include: the Grind Line, “S” Line, the Kraut Line (which got renamed after World War II) and some of the teams have nicknames, such as the Broad Street Bullies. The forward lines include three players: a right wing, a left wing, and a center. In the 1920s, one such famous forward line was comprised of Bun Cook, Bill Cook and Frank Boucher took the puck for the New York Rangers. It was called at first the “A Line” in reference to the “A” train that runs under Madison Square Gardens. They then became known as the Bread Line as a result of Bun Cook’s first name.
There are clubs that recognize achievements or potential of players that have their own nicknames. For instance, there is the Triple Gold Club–those players who have one a gold medal at both the World Championships and at the Olympics as well as a Stanley Cup. Patrice Bergeron was added to this small group–he was the 25th member–when the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011.
The “Next One” is a club few fans are aware of. Have you heard about this little club in the NHL? Most people I have asked say they knew of such a group. Players in this special club could become the next great player. As you can tell, the name is a play on Wayne Gretzky’s nickname. So far no player has matched nor surpassed any of the “Great One’s” hockey records. The four players in this unique club are Eric Lindros, John Tavares, Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid. This club is something to watch over the years as players grow and fit into their skates better!
Giving nicknames to lines dates back to the earliest hockey teams. The “S” Line consisted of three players whose last name all started with S–Nels Stewart, Babe Siebert and Hooley Smith who played for the Montreal Maroons in the 1920s. The “Kid Line” helped the Toronto Maple Leafs win the cup in 1932 and consisted of Charlie Conacher (age 18 at the time), Joe Primeau (age 23 at the time) and Harvey “Busher” Jackson (age 18 at the time). Perhaps the Maple Leafs may want to see if they can capture that lightning in a bottle a second time.
The “Punch Line” was a nickname for a three-player line of some of hockey’s greatest on the Montreal Canadiens–Elmer Lach, Hector “Toe” Blake, and Maurice “Rocket” Richard. They helped the team win two Stanley Cups! Oh, so long ago! The “Production Line” would have been an amazing sight of true hockey brilliance. They were the scoring line for the Detroit Red Wings around 1947. The line had the combined talent of Ted Lindsey, Sid Abel and Gordie Howe. What I know about hockey, the nickname sure fit!
One of my favorite nicknames is the “Legion of Doom.” I picture a line of three men that spit fire out of their nostrils and use their sticks like weapons of the Middle Ages. However, they got this nickname for their offensive abilities and but also their ability to dominate with physical play. This line of Eric Lindros, John LeClair and Mikael Renberg played for the Philadelphia Flyers between 1995-1997.
It is fun facts such as these impressive forward lines that continue to have me clamoring for history and information about the sport and the men that make it what it is. Hockey sometimes just leaves me at a loss for words.