Theodore “Ted” Lindsay is one remarkable story. Born in Renfrew, Ontario, Canada in 1925, this practicing Catholic (he attends daily Mass in suburban Detroit) was known as “Terrible Ted” during his playing career as a forward with the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Black Hawks of the National Hockey League.
His father, Bert Lindsay, led by example. He was a professional player long before his son Ted. Bert played goaltender for the Renfrew Millionaires, Victoria Aristocrats and Toronto Arenas.
Multiple scars mark Ted’s face, even more pronounced at 87 years of age. His battle marks come from fights, slashes, facial injuries and high sticks that glanced his rugged countenance during that lengthy NHL career, spanning 1944-1965.
Lindsay scored more than 800 points in his Hockey Hall of Fame career, won the Art Ross Trophy (scoring title) in 1950, and won the Stanley Cup four times. He helped to organize the NHL Players Association in the late 1950s, a move that led to his trade to Chicago by the Red Wings. His No. 7 jersey is retired by the Red Wings and hangs from the Joe Louis Arena rafters.
In addition to playing the game he richly loves, Ted was a coach, general manager and a broadcaster. He spent several years alongside legendary sports announcer Tim Ryan in the NBC-TV broadcast booth. Even a cartoon character named “Peter Puck” was one of the Lindsay/Ryan sidekicks, trying to explain the sport of hockey to millions of Americans who didn’t know off-sides from icing.
Terrible Ted maintains his presence with the sport. Despite a work stoppage that threatens to last an entire NHL season, he is always ready to support charities and alumni hockey benefits in Michigan and elsewhere. Lindsay and Alex Delvecchio were set to be part of the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day 2013 before 110,000 hockey fans at University of Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor until Commissioner Gary Bettman and players association chief Donald Fehr stole the Christmas gift from the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, and their ardent fans.
Ted played alongside greats like Alex Delvecchio, Gordie Howe, Terry Sawchuk and Red Kelley. The game was different then. Players bunked during train trips to Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Boston and New York; all Original Six franchises in the NHL. They played together, ate together, drank together and were more of a family than today’s pampered athletes and teams.
Lindsay has always had a heart of gold. He was never boastful or conceited. He always reached out to help a sick player, a front office member who was ill or a fan that asked him for his autograph or a picture to be taken. That’s one thing about hockey players that fans and media agree on: most players are approachable and down-to-earth unlike counterparts in other sports.
For Ted Lindsay, it’s been quite a ride. Always a man of faith and conviction, he was a player who made Halls of Fame, All Star Games, and won Stanley Cups. But still, he never changed. Hockey fans will always be thankful that Terrible Ted laced up his skates and gave it his all game in and game out. The sport is blessed to have such a fine man.