|1981-82 O-Pee-Chee Record Breakers #391|
Details on the back:
I've got to admit, it surprised me.
I figured the first linemates to each score 100 points in a season would have been Bossy-Trottier-Gillies on Long Island, or Kurri-Gretzky-Anderson in Edmonton.
But no, it's the Triple Crown Line in Los Angeles! Here are their final numbers for the 1980-81 season:
Marcel Dionne: 135 points in 80 GP
Dave Taylor: 112 points in 72 GP
Charlie Simmer: 105 points in 65 GP
Pretty impressive, no?
As for those Islanders, the Trio Grande almost did hit the mark in 1978-79.
Bryan Trottier: 134 points in 76 GP
Mike Bossy: 126 points in 80 GP
Clark Gillies: 91 points in 75 GP
But that's as close as they'd get. Gillies was more of the rugged power-forward type, protecting the two stars on his line with physicality and fisticuffs. However, the guy could definitely score, too. I figured he would have tallied a 100-point season at some point during the high-flying '80s, but no.
And what about Kurri-Gretzky-Anderson? Well, that one is more complicated.
First, Kurri (75 points in 75 games) and Anderson (53 points in 58 games) were just rookies during that record-breaking season, so putting up 100 points each would have been a tough ask—even for a couple of kids boiling over with talent. Secondly, that trio of Kurri-Gretzky-Anderson wasn't exactly a trio as I thought. Gretzky and Kurri stuck together as a formidable center-wing pair, but it seems like they rotated through a few different wingers on the other side. Glenn Anderson was only one of them. So you can't really call those three a line.
With those great teammates out of the equation, how about some other notable lines that almost hit the mark?
In 1971-72, the GAG Line (goal-a-game) came ever so close for the Rangers.
Jean Ratelle: 109 points in 63 GP
Vic Hadfield: 106 points in 78 GP
Rod Gilbert: 97 points in 73 GP
In 1974-75, the French Connection Line in Buffalo came tantalizingly close as well.
René Robert: 100 points in 74 GP
Gilbert Perreault: 96 points in 68 GP
Rick Martin: 95 points in 68 GP
In 1975-76, the LCB Line in Philadelphia almost got there.
Bobby Clarke: 119 points in 76 GP
Bill Barber: 112 points in 80 GP
Reggie Leach: 91 points in 80 GP
The 1976-77 Dynasty Line in Montreal wasn't too far from it either, but Jacques Lemaire was more of a two-way center (who still managed a point per game, sheesh).
Guy Lafleur: 136 points in 80 GP
Steve Shutt: 105 points in 80 GP
Jacques Lemaire: 75 points in 75 GP
And the Stastny Line came reasonably close in 1982-83 for the Nordiques. That would have been amazing.
Peter Stastny: 124 points in 75 GP
Anton Stastny: 92 points in 79 GP
Marian Stastny: 79 points in 60 GP
Then a decade later (1992-93) the Sky Line in Pittsburgh almost did it.
Mario Lemieux: 160 points in 60 GP
Kevin Stevens: 111 points in 72 GP
Jaromir Jagr: 94 points in 81 GP
Look at how many all-stars and hall-of-famers appear in those trios. It goes to show you just how tough the accomplishment is.
And it also provides a reminder:
In today's game it would be very difficult for three forwards to set the mark as a unit—not only because of the line-juggling strategies that coaches seem to employ throughout the season, but also for the much more structured style of play across the league. Oh, and goalies all seem to be 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds with big, puffy pads and catching gloves as big as one of those novelty foam #1 finger-pointing things that sports fans wear at the stadium.
And here's something else we're reminded of: Because forward lines don't remain intact as long these days, the great line nicknames don't come around as much. Add these legendary nicknames to those mentioned above: The Kid Line in Toronto (Conacher-Jackson-Primeau), The Punch Line in Montreal (Lach-Blake-Richard), The Legion of Doom in Philadelphia (Lindros-Leclair-Renberg), The Russian Five in Detroit (Fedorov-Kozlov-Larionov-Konstantinov-Fetisov), the JAM line in Colorado (Sakic-Hejduk-Tanguay).
But who knows? It seems like offensive numbers have been up a little bit over the past couple of seasons, at least for some of the really big stars, and nothing remains constant in professional sports. Maybe we'll see this kind of milestone set again one day.
No matter how the game changes, though, the Triple Crown Line of Simmer-Dionne-Taylor did something remarkable that should not be overlooked. And when your team has a forward line that's just freewheeling it, game in and game out, you won't find much better entertainment.
Here's to linemates sticking together and having enough success to make a name for themselves.