This is an excerpt from the MPH Line Heritage Night edition of Blackhawks Magazine, the official game program of the Chicago Blackhawks.
The word “linemates” fails to describe the bond that Pit Martin, Jim Pappin and Dennis Hull shared in their seven years together in Chicago.
“What was always first and foremost is that we were friends – everything else was secondary,” says Pappin. “Our chemistry on the ice reflected what we shared off of it.”
Between 1968 and 1975, Martin, Pappin and Hull were three of the most consistent offensive players for the Blackhawks, as well as arguably their strongest defensive line. In their seven years together, the “MPH Line” produced over 1,300 points – setting a team record for points in a season (272 in 1972-73) – and helped fill the offensive void left by Bobby Hull’s departure to the WHA in 1972.
The greatest demonstration of their close relationship occurred when all three members of the line were named to the 1974 NHL All-Star Game in Chicago. Instead of being announced individually, they chose to be introduced together as a line.
“It was really special for us,” Hull says. “We were recognized by the rest of the team as one – the MPH Line from the Blackhawks. As we were being introduced, Jimmy told the TV guys that we didn’t want to be introduced individually. I think that’s the only time that’s ever happened.”
The irony of the MPH Line – their chemistry, their selflessness, their friendship – is that the combination of Martin, Pappin and Hull was never supposed to be. Martin and Pappin, acquired from Boston and Toronto, respectively, were brought in to play with Bobby Hull. But when Hull held out in a contract dispute, Hawks head coach Billy Reay added Bobby’s brother Dennis to the line instead.
“We seemed to be the perfect line because each of us knew what our job was,” Hull explains. “Everybody knew what they were supposed to do. Pit was fast and good with the puck; Jimmy was a great playmaker; and I could shoot. We each did well and we wanted each other to succeed as well.”
Get the full article, plus profiles of each MPH Line member, at the March 11th game vs. Carolina. Can't make it to the game and want to purchase an issue? Call the Blackhawks Store at 1-800-GO-HAWKS.