During the 1995/96 season, the Pittsburgh Penguins formed what is sometimes called “The Great Line.” We look at the current team and try to recreate it.
If you don’t recall, this line consisted of Ron Francis, Jaromir Jagr, and Mario Lemieux and arguably the best Pittsburgh Penguins line in the team, or league, history. After all, all three of these current and soon to be Hall of Famers are in the top-10 for points scored in NHL history.
That season along, Lemieux gathered 161 points, Jagr collected 149, and Ronnie Franchise tallied 119, combining for 429 points between the three of them. You don’t see that anymore, and maybe never will. Fast-forwarding 24 NHL seasons, and we have this Pittsburgh Penguins roster in front of us; who makes the cut in our recreated “Great Line?”
For starters, it’s evident that Sidney Crosby makes the cut. His connections to the original “Great Line” run deep and start at his very origin in the NH. Mario Lemieux drafted him as the new face of the Penguins, and Sid has been the leader of this franchise for well over a decade and a half and has shown little signs of stopping.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Recreating “The Great Line” with the current team
Crosby would be a shoo-in for the center slot due to his significant commanding presence and skill from the face-off circle. Next to him, and the side doesn’t matter, is his PIC (partner in crime), Evgeni Malkin. Geno has been with Sid from the start but has traditionally taken the backstage to Crosby. The two together would be the one, two punch like before.
More from Pens Labyrinth
- Welcome To The Burgh: Lars Eller
- Penguins Waddle Toward The Season
- Farewell Carl Hagelin
- Penguins Line-up Breakdown vs Stanley Cup Champs Vegas
- Ryan Graves Solid Signing For The Pittsburgh Penguins
It would be Geno, not Sid, that would move out of his traditional role and play on the wing, just like Mario over 20 years ago. But realistically, you could mix and match them depending on who was sharper on that night. Adding Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to our created “Great Line” was palpable. The third and final choice could be up for a lot of debate; or not.
This line consists of the agility and skill of Crosby, as well as the raw power and tenacity of Malkin. All it needs now is speed and pizzazz if you will. That person can be none other than the speedy deke master, Jake Guentzel. He has a long way to go to reach top levels of Ron Francis or either of the other two legends, but he has the potential to get there.
Guentzel has typically played on the left side and is left-handed, but between him and Geno, the side doesn’t matter. We have all seen how Jake and Sid have grown together in their link-up play, adding Malkin to the mix only heightens it. If either of these players were selfish, it would be a different story, but they’re not.
If they were given the time to get used to each other’s movements, they could quickly grow into one of the most significant lines in the NHL currently, if not all time. It’s hard to think of replication of Lemieux, Jagr, and Francis, but out of the current Penguins squad, this is arguably it. Let us know what you think, and who you might replace or play differently. Until then, LETS GO PENS!