The Plumbers Line
The Washington Capitals of the 1980s were known around the league as one of the hardest working teams and one of the toughest to play against because of their work ethic and committment to team defense. One of the lines that best sums up these Capitals teams is the "plumbers line" of Greg Adams, Alan Haworth and Craig Laughlin. They played together from 1984-1987 and had their greatest success (and earned their nickname) during the 1985-86 season. In training camp, Haworth, who was a speedy winger with a hard shot was asked to play center with a couple of muckers and grinders in Adams and Laughlin. They instantly clicked and had success not only as a hard-working line that dug in the corners and worked in front of the "pipes", but also as a scoring line. Both Laughlin (30) and Haworth (34) had 30-goal seasons and all three had career highs in points - Laughlin (75), Haworth (73), Adams (56).
The jersey pictured above was worn by Craig Laughlin during the 1982-83 season while earning his reputation as a "plumber". It definitely shows the effects of mucking in the corners and taking the abuse of NHL defensemen while standing in front of the net. The jersey has over 90 team repairs with 5 of them being large material patches.
Just like the plumbers' line of the mid-1980s, the line of Ulf Dahlen, Jeff Halpern, and Steve Konowalchuk were greater than the sum of their parts. They may not have put up the same amount of offense as the plumbers, but they were certainly just as effective at wearing down opposing defenses. From 1999-2001, this was one of the best defensive lines in all of hockey. They played as a checking line against the other teams top two lines, but would often spend their entire shift in the offensive zone.
All three were tremendous in the corners not only recovering pucks but also tying up the opposition and running time off the clock. Dahlen's ability to skate sideways for long stretches allowed him to control the puck along the wall or behind the net while being able to see the entire ice sheet. This was the perfect compliment to Konowalchuk's willingness to outwork opponents and crash the net and Halpern's all-around game. Both Halpern and Konowalchuk had career years in goals in 2000-01 and all three had the best plus-minus of their careers while playing together.