“Take the risk. Take the chance. Put your heart and soul into it, because when you put your soul into it, you will become what you’ve always dreamed. You yourself will become a legend.” – Jamie Brewer said this was the type of man Ted Lindsay was. He loved the game of hockey and always gave it his all on and off the ice. Lindsay would change the game forever. leaving a huge mark on the hockey world. Today we take a look back at his career and all his amazing accomplishments.
Lindsay played for 17 years in the NHL 14 of them with the Detroit Red Wings and three of them with the Chicago Blackhawks. Over his 17-year career, Lindsay racked up 379 goals, 472 assists, and 851 points. His best season came in 1956-57 when he tallied 30 goals, 55 assists, and 85 points. Lindsay was also a four-time Stanley Cup Champion, all with the Detroit Red Wings. He was also an 11-time all-star and an Art Ross Trophy winner. Lindsay holds the NHL record, as only the second player to have scored a hat trick in one period during the Cup final.
Lindsay was often called “Terrible Ted” for his physical type of play. In fact, he was such a physical player that the NHL developed two penalties (elbowing, and kneeling) because of him. Lindsay also started one of the beloved NHL traditions of lifting the Stanley Cup and skating around the rink with it. He first did it in 1950 after the Red Wings beat the Rangers in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
After he retired as a player, Lindsay became a sports commentator for the New York Rangers. One of Lindsay’s famous lines while being the color commentator was, “That’s laying the lumber on him” which he used when a player made a big hit. It was a very fitting saying for one of the toughest players in the game. When NBC bought the rights to broadcast the NHL Lindsay made the transition and went on to announce for NBC for the next few years.
In 1977 Ted Lindsay became the general manager of the Red Wings. During this time the team had been struggling to make the postseason. So what did he do to help turn things around for the Wings? He appeared in commercials of course! Lindsay would say “Aggressive Hockey is back in town!” These commercials helped promote the team. Did it work? Amazingly enough, the next year the Red Wings would make the playoffs ending a nine-year drought! Lindsay would win GM of the year for his unorthodox methods that would not soon be forgotten. In the later parts of the 1979-1980 season, Lindsay continued to shock the NHL when he named himself the head coach of the team. However, this time his plan did not work out as well as he would have hoped. They did not make the playoffs that year and got off to a 3-14-3 start the following year. Lindsay was then fired as the head coach.
But perhaps Lindsay’s best accomplishments came off the ice. During his playing time, Lindsay attended a promotion with players from other sports such as Baseball and Football. At this promotion, Lindsay learned that player’s conditions were much better in these other sports, and he became determined to change that. At the time NHL owners had control over their players for their entire career. Players were never paid as much as they are today (the average salary for a superstar was $25,000 which is about $223,000 in today’s money), In fact, some players had to have summer jobs just to make a living despite owners selling out their games night after night. To make things worse, most players had nothing better than a high school diploma. so finding jobs in the summer and after retirement was not easy. This is part of the reason Lindsay wanted to make a change in the NHL. After talking to lawyers for other players in other leagues, Lindsay got to work on creating what is known as today as the National Players Association. Along with star defencemen Doug Harvey they organized this group in secret contacting players and asking for their support. Despite the support being almost unanimous. owners were not too keen on the idea. Players who supported the idea were often benched or sent down to the minors. Lindsay was even stripped of his captaincy during his fight. It would be a long battle for the players that resulted in them also suing the NHL in 1926. It wasn’t until 1967 when the union became permanent.
Lindsay even had his name etched in history through awards. One of the biggest awards given out in the offseason is the award for the most outstanding player. This award was originally called the Lester B. Pearson Award but was renamed the Ted Lindsay Award in 2010. The Players Association said this award was named after him because of his skill, tenacity, leadership, and role in establishing the original Players’ Association.
In 1966 Lindsay was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. However, one action by him changed the rules in the Hall of Fame forever. At the time the ceremony was for men only. This meant that Lindsay could not attend with his wife and kids, therefore, he did not go. The next year the rule was changed, and woman could now attend the ceremony. Even Lindsay’s smallest actions had such a big impact on the league.
In 2001 Lindsay continued his work when he created the Ted Lindsay Foundation that would help work on finding a cure for autism. The foundation has raised over 1.5 million dollars and has donated to places like The Thoughtful Center for Children.
When Lindsay passed away on March 4th, 2019, the Hockey world lost a legend that changed the game for the better. From his fight to create the National Players Association to his protest against the Hall of Fame ceremony, Lindsay made a difference big and small. Despite his tough guy persona Wayne Gretzky said on Twitter “Terrible Ted” was one of the nicest men in hockey. Every player should be thankful for his courage to create the Players Association, which has grown into partnership between the players and owners of the NHL. He was a true champion on and off the ice and will be deeply missed.” President and CEO of the Red Wings Chris Ilitch probably put it best though when he said: “…While he will be sorely missed by us and many others, his positive impact to the game and to our community will live on.”
Rest easy Mr. Lindsay.