Best. NHL. Line. Ever?

You gotta try this.

It let's you pick the NHL's top 4 forward lines (Left Wing, Center, Right Wing) of all time out of a pool of 50 forwards. So cool. Makes you appreciate the talent level that has been maintained over the decades in the NHL. Being a HUGE hockey fan- I grew up playing and I play to this day- it was very hard for me to only make 4 top lines with the players given. But I narrowed my criteria down to several eligibility factors:

  • Was the player dominant in his era?
  • Did the player have a linemate that made him a better player? Call it the "Glenn Anderson Rule". (No, not the "Jari Kurri Rule"- Jari was great his entire career, even without Gretz.)
    • If yes, then is that player among the Top 50 listed?
      • If yes, then you need to keep at least 2 of those on the line together.
  • The player needs to play a position he played frequently- i.e., a Center has to be chosen at Center, but if he played Wing extensively too (eg., Sergei Federov) he can be chosen at either position. But Wingers are simply Wingers (i.e., LW and RW are interchangeable).
  • The final category is simply my feeling, knowing the background/reputation of most of the players pretty well, I leave tiebreakers up to my overall subjectivity- call it the "Going with Your Gut" Rule. Heck, this is East Coast Bias, after all.
So, all that being said and without further adieu, my top 4 lines of all time are (in order of LW, C, RW):

Line 1: Kurri, Gretzsky, Howe
Line 2: Bossy, Lemieux, Messier
Line 3: LaFleur, Yzerman, Jagr
Line 4: Richard, Dionne, Clarke

"Honorable Mention Line": Bobby Hull, Federov, Brett Hull.
Explanation- I couldn't pick 1 Hull without including the other among the Top 4 lines- it would have been a disservice to both. And Federov in his prime defined the transition to European hockey in the NHL. There is no better representative of the early 1990's NHL (but Kurri gets the international player nod in the Top 4 lines).