This isn’t meant as a slam on anyone, but one of my pet peeves is how the term ‘Big Three’ is overused, misused and abused by hockey writers, pundits, bloggers, etc. I don’t understand why we do this. It’s not like anytime someone comes along who plays with passion and ferocity, he’s the New Rocket, or when a short guy with thunder thighs scorches the ice when he skates, now he’s the Roadrunner. But we throw around the Big Three© moniker like it doesn’t mean anything, like it’s not already taken
There is one Big Three when it comes to hockey, and that is the three Hall of Fame defencemen who were the foundation for the Canadiens dynasty in the Seventies: Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe and Larry Robinson. All of them were over 6 feet and weighed more than 200 lbs, which was more rare back then. All of them were big on talent, on style, on production and big game performance. All three of them were Norris Trophy winners or candidates at some point in their careers. Opposition coaches despaired that, save a Denis Potvin or Brad Park or Borje Salming, they didn’t have even one d-man as good as the Canadiens Big Three.
I shudder whenever the Leafs, or any team really but it’s usually the Leafs, are described as having the Next Big Three, or the New Big Three. It’s always Carlo Colaiacovo and Jim Smith and Pjotr Fjornsberg*, and wow are they a talented bunch, and then you learn that Mr. Smith isn’t quite that big after all, just 5’11” and 185 lbs, but never mind that, let’s hammer that modestly-sized square peg into the round Big Three hole, we’re committed to this tired and inapt narrative.
Then it happens again, only now it’s Morgan Rielly and Cody Franson and Jake Gardiner, and they’re the foundation that will lead the Leafs to new success and Stanley Cup, and oops, sorry, now Cody Franson is gone, and he was kind of big, but that’s about it. He’s not 10% of Larry Robinson, but we went there anyway.
So please, we can say Big Three when we talk about Ford, GM and Chrysler, that’s where it started, but when it comes to hockey, there was only one Big Three. Let’s leave it at that, and use a Three Amigos or Three Horsemen of the Apoceclipse narrative next time we have to shoehorn three hockey players into one story.
(*=or some other guy you never heard of, and never will)