Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Original KLM Line

 
Most hockey fans are aware of the famous KLM line that skated for the Soviet Union throughout the 1980's. Vladimir Krutov, Igor Larionov and Sergei Makarov were perhaps one of the greatest units on hockey history. They were not however the first trio to be christened with the label of KLM line.

More than three decades before the famous Soviet line, the Toronto Maple Leafs had a line with the very same KLM name. In his 1950 biography of Ted Kennedy, "Come on Teeder", Ed Fitkin makes two direct references to the Leafs KLM trio.

In 1946/47 a rookie Howie Meeker and new Leaf Vic Lynn joined fourth-year Leaf Ted Kennedy to form a line. Meeker won the Calder Trophy that season, Kennedy finished fifth in NHL scoring and Lynn notched 20 points in 31 games before getting injured. The line would stayed together for over three seasons and was popular enough to have a poem composed by Toronto Star Hockey writer, Gordon Walker in the style of the baseball poem "Tinker to Evers to Chance."






These be the choicest of summary words;
Kennedy, Meeker and Lynn.
Trio of Leaflets, fleeter than birds,-
Kennedy, Meeker and Lynn.
Thoughtfully clicking on passing plays
Doing tricks with the puck that amaze
Words becoming a popular phrase
Kennedy, Meeker and Lynn.








Ed Fitkin was not only the author of many hockey biographies from this era, but he was also the Director of Public Relations for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The fact that he refers to the line by the name KLM leads me to believe that the name was fairly well-used at the time. He mentions the name twice:

Page 118
Lynn followed Meeker to the sidelines with a shoulder dislocation - and on Jan. 20, the entire K-L-M Line was hors de combat when Kennedy finally had to yield to his severely bruised back.

Page 128
(1949/50 season) The K-L-M Line had been broken up and Kennedy's partners were Sid Smith and Fleming Mackell, the two youngsters who had played so well with him in the playoffs.

I was not aware of a KLM line in existence prior to the mighty Soviet trio, but perhaps it is time to acknowledge the existence of a KLM line some thirty plus years before it's more famous usage.



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