an either/or question. the HOH100 bill cook discussion made me think of this. rules: must be a line that was stable, i.e., the same three guys for multiple years - seriously, three guys. so not jagr/francis/revolving plug or ovechkin/backstrom/random - also, no superstar and two non-star guys, with all due respect to bill hay... or kristian huselius - power of balance must have been relatively stable through the line's existence (yes corey perry had a career year and won the hart one time, we would still count getzlaf as usually that line's top dude) - must be one of the league's top lines, my apologies to the great checking lines, esp gainey/jarvis/risebrough, or elite but not that elite scoring units like egg line - winger must be either far and away the best player on the line (daniel often scored more than henrik, but no sedins obviously), or the center must be the clear third best player (the cash line being an extreme grey area here, but i say spezza is close enough that you can't call him the clear #3; but this is subjective i guess... i would count KLM, albeit by the slimmest margin, but not the hot line as i am really high on ulf nilsson) - bonus points for if all three players are all-stars, if not hall of famers --- so we have lots of examples from the original six: even if we say that there's a decent argument that original production line doesn't count (decent argument for abel or abel/lindsay before howe unequivocally takes over in 1951), nor the punch line (ditto lach), you have the bread line (cook), the kid line (conacher, or if you really like jackson then primeau was the clear third guy), production lines 2 and 3 (howe) not so much after expansion. the donut line (with pete mahovlich) and the subsequent version with lemaire would be your best example(s). and in the modern era (post-WHA merger), there are a couple of borderline examples (borderline because they were very successful in terms of team accomplishments but maybe not necessarily elite in the absolute sense), propp/poulin/kerr and the A line of elias/arnott/sykora. or you have the opposite, where you have a massive donut line like kariya/rucchin/selanne or naslund/morrison/bertuzzi, with no team success. you do have the KLM line, which i guess could be very arguable, but that happened outside the NHL. and i guess there is also matti hagman between young messier and anderson, but i don't know that they stayed together long enough, and in any event in the long run they moved the clear best guy to center. a shorter lived example of this being sub-optimal is the option line, where they dumped the weak link center (john cullen) at the deadline and won a cup with the best player on the planet centering those two great wingers (kevin stevens and mark recchi). more recently, if you are as high on MSL as i am (or as low on lecavalier), then you could definitely argue for that prospal/lecavalier/MSL line. that wasn't the line that won the cup, of course. i guess my point here is to bring back the old question of whether the league can ever bring back the model where the center is the dirty work or defensive guy, and the winger(s) are the star scorer. it obviously failed miserably when that guy was rucchin or morrison. but could it have succeeded if those teams had someone more on the level of a delvecchio or larionov or lemaire or dare i say boucher? (but then frank boucher was probably better than all four of kariya, selanne, naslund, and the todd) or on a deep team with vezina-level goaltending, could upgrading rucchin/morrison to someone like dave poulin have worked? this also goes back to the playmaking winger question that's come up from time to time. can a line like giroux/couturier/voracek make waves and make multiple deep runs (like the 80s flyers) or dare i say win multiple cups (like the 70s habs and some of those great O6 lines)? panarin/anisimov/kane did some wonderful things but they didn't win any cups. and back when jamie benn was the clear top guy on his line, they kept moving him to center and seguin to the wing.