The three forwards
– the centre
, right wing
and left wing
– operate as a unit called a line
. The tradition of naming the threesomes who compose the hockey teams' lines of attack extends back to the 1920s when Bun Cook
, Frank Boucher
and Bill Cook
of the New York Rangers
formed the A Line (named after the A Train
, which ran under Madison Square Garden
Famous NHL lines with nicknames
- "The A line/The Bread line" — New York Rangers (1920s) — Frank Boucher, Bill & Bun Cook; a reference to "Bun" Cook's nickname
- "The Brat line" — Toronto Maple Leafs (late 1970s) — Dave "Tiger" Williams, Jack Valiquette, and Pat Boutette
- The BOW Line — Boston Bruins (1963) — Johnny Bucyk, Murray Oliver, and Tommy Williams
- "The Century line" — Pittsburgh Penguins (1972-76) — Syl Apps Jr., Lowell MacDonald, and Jean Pronovost; also known as "The Bicentennial Line"; scored 100+ goals and 200+ points for 4 straight seasons
- "The Clydesdale Line" — Chicago Blackhawks (1984-1987) — Curt Fraser, Troy Murray, and Ed Olczyk; each player weighed in at or around 200 pounds. NHL players weighing in excess of 200 pounds was rare in those days.
- "The Crazy Eights Line"; Philadelphia Flyers (1990's) Eric Lindros, Mark Recchi, Brent Fedyk -- wore jersey numbers 88, 8 and 18, respectively
- "The Dynamite line" — Boston Bruins (1928-33) Cooney Weiland, Dutch Gainor, Dit Clapper
- "The Dynasty line" — Montreal Canadiens (1970s) — Guy Lafleur, Jacques Lemaire, and Steve Shutt; also with Peter Mahovlich in place of Lemaire; bonus fact: Shutt once called the Lafleur/Mahovlich/Shutt line the "Donut Line" (because it had no centre)
- "The Espo Line" Boston Bruins (1967-75) — Wayne Cashman, Phil Esposito, and Ken Hodge; also known as "The Nitro line"; and "The Dogs of War line"
- "The FLY line" — New York Rangers (2002) — Eric Lindros, Theo Fleury and Mike York; the Rangers top three scorers that season.
- "The Flying Frenchmen" — Montreal Canadiens (1917-19) — Didier Pitre, Jack Laviolette, Newsy Lalonde
- "The French Connection" — Buffalo Sabres (1972-1979) — Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin and Rene Robert; made up of three French-Canadian players
- "The GAG line" (Goal-A-Game Line) — New York Rangers (1964-75) — Jean Ratelle, Vic Hadfield and Rod Gilbert -- later dubbed the "TAG (Two-A-Game) Line"
- "The GEM line" — Atlanta Flames (late 1970s) — Guy Chouinard, Eric Vail and Bob MacMillan
- "The GEM line" — Toronto Maple Leafs (late 1980s) — Gary Leeman, Ed Olczyk and Mark Osborne
- "The Godfather and Two Dons line" &mdash New York Rangers (late 1970s) Don Maloney, Phil Esposito, and Don Murdoch
- "The Grind line" — Detroit Red Wings (1990s) — Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, and Darren McCarty
- "The HEM line" — Toronto Maple Leafs (1960s) — Billy Harris, Gerry Ehman, and Frank Mahovlich
- "The Hound line" — Toronto Maple Leafs (1980s) — Wendel Clark, Russ Courtnall, and Gary Leeman -- all three had played for the Notre Dame Hounds
- "The HUM line" — Detroit Red Wings (1960s) — Paul Henderson, Norm Ullman, and Bruce MacGregor
- "The Kid line" — Toronto Maple Leafs (1929-36) — Charlie Conacher, Joe Primeau, and Busher Jackson
- "The Kraut line" — Boston Bruins (1936-42, 1945-47) — Milt Schmidt, Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer; all three players were born in Kitchener, Ontario, which was called Berlin before World War I, and whose citizens are mainly of German descent
- "The LCB line" — Philadelphia Flyers (1970s) — Reggie Leach, Bobby Clarke, and Bill Barber; after the initials of the players' surnames
- "The Legion of Doom" — Philadelphia Flyers (1994-97) — Eric Lindros, John LeClair and Mikael Renberg
- "The LILCO line" — New York Islanders (1977-86) — Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies and Bryan Trottier; after Long Island Lighting Company; originally with Billy Harris instead of Bossy; also known as "The Trio Grande Line"
- "The Mad line" — Toronto Maple Leafs (2002-04) — Mats Sundin, Alexander Mogilny and Darcy Tucker
- "The Mattress line" — Vancouver Canucks (2003-04) — Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Jason King; after mattress sizes, "Two twins and a king."
- "The Million Dollar line" — Chicago Blackhawks (1950s-60s) — Bobby Hull, Murray Balfour, Bill Hay
- "The MPH line" — Chicago Black Hawks (1960s) — Stan Mikita, Jim Pappin, and Dennis Hull; after the initials of the players' surnames; it also stands for "miles per hour", a unit of speed
- "The Olympic line" — Winnipeg Jets (1992-96) — Teemu Selanne, Alexei Zhamnov, Keith Tkachuk. Named after each member's home country: Selanne is a Finn, Tkachuk is American, and Zhamnov from Russia.
- "The Option Line" — Pittsburgh Penguins (1990-91) — John Cullen, Mark Recchi, and Kevin Stevens -- the line came together when all three players were in the option year of their respective contracts
- "The Party line" — Chicago Black Hawks (1980s) — Denis Savard, Al Secord, and Steve Larmer
- "The Pony line" — Chicago Black Hawks (1945-48) — Max & Doug Bentley, Bill Mosienko
- "The Production line" — Detroit Red Wings (1947-52) — Sid Abel, Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, later with Alex Delvecchio
- "The Punch line" — Montreal Canadiens (1943-48) — Hector "Toe" Blake, Elmer Lach and Maurice "Rocket" Richard
- "The Russian Five" — Detroit Red Wings (1990s) — Sergei Fedorov, Igor Larionov, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Vladimir Konstantinov, and Viacheslav Fetisov
- "The S line" — Montreal Maroons (1920s) — Nels Stewart, Babe Siebert, Hooley Smith; after the common initial "S" of the players' surnames
- "The Scooter line" — Chicago Black Hawks (1960s) — Doug Mohns, Stan Mikita, Ken Wharram
- "The Sky line" — Pittsburgh Penguins (1990s) — Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, and Kevin Stevens
- "The Slovak Pack" — St. Louis Blues 1999-2000 — Pavol Demitra, Michal Handzus, and Lubos Bartecko
- "The Speedball Line" — Montreal Canadiens (1927-34, 1937) — Howie Morenz, Aurel Joliat, Johnny "Black Cat" Gagnon — an intelligent play on words that refers to the speed (more Morenz and Joliat) and cleverness (more Gagnon) of its members
- The Trio Grande Line New York Islanders 1970-1980'2 Clark Gillies-Bryan Trottier-Mike Bossy
- "The Triple Crown Line" — Los Angeles Kings (1970s-80s) — Dave Taylor, Charlie Simmer and Marcel Dionne; a reference to the Kings' logo, which features a crown; this was the first line in NHL history where each player scored 100 points or more in the same season (1980-81 NHL season).
- "The Uke line" — Boston Bruins (1957-64) — Bronco Horvath, Johnny Bucyk, Vic Stasiuk; referring to the players' Ukrainian ancestry
- "The West Coast Express" — Vancouver Canucks (2000-2006) — Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison, and Todd Bertuzzi; reference to local commuter rail service of the same name
Famous non-NHL lines with nicknames
- "The Army Line" — HC CSKA Moscow Soviet league (1970s) — Valeri Kharlamov (LW), Boris Mikhailov (RW), Vladimir Petrov (C)
- "The Coneheads Line" — USA Hockey, 1980 Winter Olympics, "Miracle On Ice" team — Mark Pavelich, John Harrington, Buzz Schneider; after the famous Saturday Night Live sketch series Coneheads, because they played a strange or 'alien' style. All three players were from the Iron Range in Northeast Minnesota
- "The DDT Line" — Ice hockey at the 2003 World Championships, 2004 World Championships, & 2004 World Cup of Hockey (for Canada) — Kris Draper, Shane Doan, Joe Thornton; after the initials of the players' surnames
- "The KLM line" — Soviet national ice hockey team (1980s) — Vladimir Krutov, Igor Larionov, Sergei Makarov; after the initials of the players' surnames; also known as "The Green Line" because they wore green jerseys in practice.
- "Les Trois Denis" — Montreal Juniors (late 1970s) — Denis Cyr, Denis Tremblay, Denis Savard; A line that featured three players who all were named Denis, all were born on February 4, 1961, and all grew up in the same neighbourhood in Verdun, Quebec. Was dominant in the QMJHL for a couple of years.
- "The Hanson Brothers"-; fictional checking line from the 1977 movie Slap Shot based on the real-life Carlson brothers.
- "The Jönsson League" — Färjestad BK, Sweden (2000s) — Jörgen Jönsson, Peter Nordström, Pelle Prestberg and for a while instead of Prestberg, Hannes Hyvönen; Named after a serie of films with the same name.
- "The Huey, Dewey, and Louie line" — Team Finland (1994-1995) — Ville Peltonen (LW), Saku Koivu (C) and Jere Lehtinen (RW; The lineup debuted in 1994 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships and made an instant impact on Finnish National Team's play during the tournament. The lineup was later on used during 1995 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships, where Finland won their first ever Gold Medals. The play of the lineup gained international attraction and later on, the trio would go on and have a career in NHL with Koivu for Montreal Canadiens, Lehtinen for Dallas Stars and finally; Peltonen, gaining his spot in the NHL after a lengthy struggle, playing for San Jose Sharks, Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers.
Current, short-lived and/or novelty lines (though seldom used beyond local fans)
- "The 2 Kids & A Goat line" — Detroit Red Wings — Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Brett Hull, originally with Boyd Devereaux in place of Zetterberg.
- "The 700 Pound line" — Boston Bruins — Joe Thornton, Glen Murray, Mike Knuble
- "The The A Line" — New Jersey Devils — Patrik Elias, Jason Arnott, and Petr Sykora
- "The ABC line" — Chicago Blackhawks — Tyler Arnason, Mark Bell, and Kyle Calder
- "The AMP line" — Colorado Avalanche (2000s) — Alex Tanguay, Milan Hejduk, Peter Forsberg; after the initials of the players' given names
- "The Ash Line" — New York Islanders — Arron Asham, Alexei Yashin, Oleg Kvasha; after the common string "ash" in their last names
- "The Bay Street Bullies" — Toronto Maple Leafs — Darcy Tucker, Shayne Corson, Tie Domi
- "The BBC line" — Carolina Hurricanes (2000s) — Bates Battaglia, Rod Brind'Amour, Erik Cole
- "The Big Line" — Minnesota Wild (2000s) — Brian Rolston, Pavol Demitra, Marian Gaborik; Line consisting of the Wild's top scorers, though rarely play together, hence the "Big" line.
- "The Brothers Line" — Vancouver Canucks (2000s) — Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Anson Carter; the Sedins are the only twins picked one right after the other (Daniel went second and Henrik third in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft), and Carter is of Bajan descent and is known as "Soul Brother".
- "The Bulldog Line" — New York Rangers — Steve Vickers, Walt Tkaczuk, Bill Fairbairn
- "The CASH line" — Ottawa Senators (2005-present) — Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson; also: "The Pizza line" after promotional giveaway at home games; "The Ash Line". This line was named in its entirety for the 2008 NHL All-Star game, however Heatley was injured.
- "The Checking Line" — Anaheim Ducks (2006-present) — Samuel Påhlsson (C), Travis Moen (LW), Rob Niedermayer (RW); Named for stopping the opponents top line. This line was a key factor for Anaheim to win the Stanley Cup in 2007.
- "The Crash line" — New Jersey Devils — Mike Peluso, Bobby Holik, and Randy McKay
- "The Crazy Eights" — Philadelphia Flyers — Eric Lindros, Brent Fedyk, and Mark Recchi; so named because they wore the uniform numbers 88, 18, and 8, respectively.
- "CVS Line" — Hartford Whalers — Geoff Sanderson, Andrew Cassels, Pat Verbeek
- "Czech-mate line" — New York Rangers — Jan Hlavac left wing, Radek Dvorak right wing, and Petr Nedved center. Also used to describe the current Edmonton Oilers line of Petr Sykora left wing, Ales Hemsky right wing, and Nedved center.
- "Czechs-Mex line" — Edmonton Oilers — Raffi Torres, Petr Sykora and Ales Hemsky. (Named because the latter two are Czechs, and Torres is a Canadian of Hispanic descent.)
- "The Deuces Wild Line" — Philadelphia Flyers — Simon Gagné, Peter Forsberg, and Mike Knuble; so named because they wear the uniform numbers 12, 21, and 22 respectively.
- "The Dice Line" — Calgary Flames — Colin Patterson, Richard Kromm, and Carey Wilson; so named because their uniform numbers were 11, 22, and 33 respectively.
- "The EGG line" — New Jersey Devils — Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez, and Brian Gionta. (The Devs had great success with this line, winning the Stanley Cup with them in the 2002-03 season.)
- "The Finnish Sandwich" — Edmonton Oilers — Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, and Esa Tikkanen (Kurri and Tikkanen are Finns)
- "The FLY line" — New York Rangers — Theoren Fleury, Eric Lindros, and Mike York
- "FTD Line" (They always delivered) — Hartford Whalers — Ron Francis, Sylvain Turgeon, Kevin Dineen
- The "GAS line" — Boston Bruins (2000s) — Bill Guerin, Jason Allison, Sergei Samsonov
- "The Grumpy Old Men line" — Dallas Stars — Kirk Muller, John MacLean, and Mike Keane
- "The High Speed Line" — Philadelphia Flyers (Early 1980s) — Ray Allison, Ron Flockhart, Brian Propp
- The "HMO Line" — New York Rangers (2005-06) — Ryan Hollweg, Dominic Moore, Jed Ortmeyer
- "The Ikea Line" Vancouver Canucks (2000s) — Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Markus Naslund. Each person is from Sweden and refers to the IKEA company originating from Sweden
- The "Kid Line" / "PPG Line" — Anaheim Ducks (2006–07) — Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Dustin Penner
- "The KLS line" — Pittsburgh Penguins — Alexei Kovalev, Robert Lang, Martin Straka
- "The LAPD Line" — Los Angeles Kings (2001-2002)— Jason Allison, Ziggy Palffy, Adam Deadmarsh
- "The Lord of the Rings Line" — Toronto Maple Leafs (2006) — Alexei Ponikarovsky, Kyle Wellwood, Nik Antropov. (Frodo and the Two Towers)
- "The Lucky Sevens" — New York Islanders — Michael Peca, Shawn Bates, and Mark Parrish; so named because they wore the uniform numbers 27, 17, and 37, respectively.
- "The Maginot Line" — Buffalo Sabres (2004) — Jean-Pierre Dumont, Daniel Briere, Jochen Hecht; Two French Canadians and a German from the border city of Buffalo.
- "The Mattress line" — Vancouver Canucks — Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Jason King; the Sedins are twin brothers, so together the line was two twins and a king.
- "Monty Babcock's Flying Circus" — Detroit Red Wings (2006-Present) — Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom; named arose from a line naming contest on a popular hockey website.
- "The MVP line" — Tampa Bay Lightning (2006) — Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Vaclav Prospal; stands for Marty, Vinny, and Prospal, also Martin St. Louis won the Hart memorial trophy as league MVP in 2004 and Vincent Lecavalier was nominated for the Lester B. Pearson award in 2007.
- "The 'OMG' Line" — Phoenix Coyotes — Oleg Saprykin, Mike Zigomanis, and Georges Laraque
- "The 'Ov' line" — San Jose Sharks — Johan Garpenlöv, Igor Larionov, and Sergei Makarov
- "The PB&J (Peanut-Butter and Jelly) Line &mdash, Montreal Canadiens, Alexander Perezhogin, Radek Bonk, and Mike Johnson. All three players left the team in 2007 to Free Agency but they were a decent shutdown trio.
- "The Plumbers" — Washington Capitals — Greg Adams, Craig Laughlin, Alan Haworth; named for their hard working efforts, and, of course, Richard Nixon's White House "plumbers"
- "The Power of the Pens" line — Pittsburgh Penguins — Mario Lemieux (C), Jaromir Jagr (RW), Ron Francis (LW)
- "Price Club Line", Michigan Wolverines (2003-04) T.J. Hensick, Milan Gajic and Brandon Kaleniecki (because they score in bulk)
- "RAV line" — Buffalo Sabres (2005-present) — Thomas Vanek (LW), Derek Roy (C), Maxim Afinogenov (RW). Named for the initials of their surnames.
- "The RPM Line" — Edmonton Oilers — Marty Reasoner (C), Fernando Pisani (RW), and Ethan Moreau (LW); after the players' surnames.
- "The Sesame Street Line" — Philadelphia Flyers (1970s) — Dave Schultz (Grouch), Orest Kindrachuk (Oscar or Ernie), Don Saleski (Big Bird)
- "The Shamrock Line" — New York Rangers (2006-07)— Brendan Shanahan (LW), Matt Cullen (C), and Ryan Callahan (RW); in reference to the strong Irish heritage held in each player, Sean Avery was used as center instead of Matt Cullen when the Rangers acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings.
- The “Smurf Line” — Montreal Canadiens — Saku Koivu (C), Valeri Bure (LW) and Oleg Petrov (RW); after their relatively small height.
- "The Skyline" — Toronto Maple Leafs — Joe Nieuwendyk (C), Nikolai Antropov (RW), and Alexei Ponikarovsky (LW) (Named because of each of the players is above average height; Nieuwendyk is 6-feet-2-inches, Ponikarovsky is 6-foot-4 and Antropov is 6-6)
- "The Slovakian Trio" — Minnesota Wild (2000s) — Branko Radivojevic, Pavol Demitra, Marian Gáborík; all come from Slovakian descent. Used early in the 2006-2007 regular and post-season. Also: The "Super Slovaks"; "The Trencin Trio"
- The "S-MAC-K Line" — Anaheim Ducks — (2007) — Teemu Selänne, Andy McDonald and Chris Kunitz.
- "The Swedish Connection" — Vancouver Canucks — Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Markus Naslund; also "The Swedish Triple"; “IKEA line”; "Torpedo Line"
- "The Speed Team" — Columbus Blue Jackets — Manny Malhotra (C), Jason Chimera (LW), Dan Fritsche (RW).
- "The Swedish Five" — Detroit Red Wings/Team Sweden Olympics 2006 (2000s) — Mikael Samuelsson (RW), Henrik Zetterberg (C), Tomas Holmström (LW), Niklas Kronwall (RD), and Nicklas Lidstrom (LD); all got points for team Sweden in the gold medal game. Also the first NHL line assembled with all Swedish players. Name is reminiscent of Russian Five.
- The "Team USA Line" — St. Louis Blues — Keith Tkachuk (LW), Doug Weight (C), and Bill Guerin (RW); also "American Pie" line
- The “United Nations Line” — Colorado Avalanche — Valery Kamensky (Russian), Peter Forsberg (Swedish), Claude Lemieux (Canadian); also “Barrage-A-Trois”
- "Vowel line" — Nashville Predators (2001-02) — Martin Erat (LW), Vladimir Orszagh (RW), Denis Arkhipov (C). Named for the first letter of each player's surname.
- "VHS Line" — Phoenix Coyotes (2007-present) — Radim Vrbata (RW), Martin Hanzal (C), Fredrik Sjöström (LW). Named for the first letter of each player's surname.
- "The White Line" — Minnesota Wild (2006-07) — Brian Rolston (LW), Todd White (C), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (RW)
- The "ZZ Pop" line New Jersey Devils (2007-present) – Zack Parise (LW), Travis Zajac (C), and Jamie Langenbrunner (RW) (Named because of the two young "Z"'s and Lags being the seasoned veteran is the "Pop". A play on the rock group ZZ Top
- "The Blackhawk Down Line" Philadelphia Flyers – Jeremy Roenick, Tony Amonte, Alexei Zhamnov (all three are former Chicago Blackhawks
- The "HBO Line" — New York Rangers — Ryan Hollweg (LW), Blair Betts (C), and Colton Orr (RW). Named for the three players surnames, and is a play on HBO.
- The "Steel City Line" — Pittsburgh Penguins — Ryan Malone (LW), Evgeni Malkin (C), and Petr Sykora (RW). Named because of the "Steel City" connection between Malkin and Sykora, two former Metallurg Magnitogorsk (of the Russian Super League) teammates, and Pittsburgh native Malone. Also called the "Syko-Ma-Ma" Line.
- The "RPM Line" — Colorado Avalanche (2007-present) — Ryan Smyth (LW), Paul Stastny (C), Milan Hejduk (RW).
Famous forward combinations without acknowledged nicknames
- Dallas Stars (1990s) — Brett Hull, Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen
- Detroit Red Wings (1930s) — Herbie Lewis, Marty Barry and Larry Aurie
- Los Angeles Kings — Wayne Gretzky, Tomas Sandström and Tony Granato
- Mighty Ducks of Anaheim — Paul Kariya, Steve Rucchin and Teemu Selänne
- Montreal Canadiens — Jean Béliveau, Dickie Moore and Bernie Geoffrion
- New York Rangers — Adam Graves, Mark Messier and Alexei Kovalev
- Pittsburgh Penguins — Mario Lemieux, Jaromír Jágr and Kevin Stevens
- Pittsburgh Penguins — Mario Lemieux, Jaromír Jágr and Ron Francis (sometimes called the Great Line)
- Toronto Maple Leafs — Lanny McDonald, Darryl Sittler and Errol Thompson
- Winnipeg Jets (WHA) — Bobby Hull, Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson (sometimes called "the Hot Line")
- Springfield Indians (AHL) — Joe Day, Yvon Corriveau and Dale Henry (sometimes known as the Piranhas)
- Quebec Aces (QSHL) — Herb Carnegie, Ossie Carnegie and Manny McIntyre — the Black Aces.
- Tampa Bay Lightning — Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards and Fredrik Modin
- HPK (Finland, 2002-03) — Antti Miettinen (LW), Tommi Santala (C) and Eero Somervuori (RW)
- HPK (Finland), 2000's) — Jukka Hentunen, Niko Kapanen and Timo Pärssinen (sometimes called "The Teletubby-line")