January 17, 2011

Hockey's Greatest Line

The magic of the Sedin twins has been a real treat to watch in the past few years. Together with Alex Burrows, the twins come up with such intricate offensive plays with an unreal understanding of where each other is. It is almost as if their super twin powers includes the ability to communicate telepathically.

Their consistently surreal play is so impressive that now many hockey pundits are asking if there has ever been a more dynamic duo in the history of hockey. Gretzky and Kurri? Lemieux and Jagr? The Soviets?

But I never hear anyone mention a different set of brothers - the Cook brothers of New York Rangers fame.

Hall of Famers Bill Cook and Bun Cook, together with the gentlemanly elegant Frank Boucher at center (also a Hall of Famer), similarly wowed crowds way back in the 1920s and 1930s. Oldtimers tell us that "The Bread Line" played with the game with the same speed, beauty and criss-crossing creativity as the Soviets, decades before the Russians mastered hockey.

Bill Cook was the goal scorer. A burly right winger with the desire of Rocket Richard and the physical prowess of Gordie Howe, Frank Boucher once proclaimed Bill to be better than both.

"He's my choice for the best right winger hockey ever knew," said Boucher, a fine player himself who is often referred to as the Gretzky of the pre-World War II era. "He was better than The Rocket and, in my estimation, better than Gordie Howe as well."

Historians often tried to compare the Bread Line's intricate passing offense to that of the Soviets several decades later. And none other than Frank Selke acknowledged Bun Cook as the key their attack.

"Men who would know credit Bunny Cook with the introduction of the passing attack," wrote Frank Selke. "The Cook-Boucher line introduced a style of attack completely their own — each member kept working into an open spot, passing the puck carefully and adequately and frequently pushing the puck into the open net after confusing the defensive force of the opposition."

Of course, the Cooks had the great benefit of playing with Frank Boucher, who may have been the best player of the three!

When it comes to discussing the greatest lines in hockey history, the Rangers' Bread Line deserves top consideration.

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