We lost another great with last week’s passing of Ted Lindsay, Hall of Fame hockey standout with the Detroit Red Wings. With a heart larger than life, Lindsay was always the gentleman with whomever he met. Whether it was a request to speak at a hockey banquet, an autograph-seeker or an offer to help raise money to support autism (his favorite cause), “Terrible Ted” was there.
I first met Lindsay in the late 1970’s while producing the Ron Cameron “Sportstalk” show on Detroit’s then-WXYZ radio. He had an up-and-down relationship with “Scoop” Cameron because of the host’s tendency to break news about Lindsay when he was Detroit’s general manager. Once Lindsay was away from the Red Wings front office, however, he was very willing to come on as a guest and discuss the good times he had as a four-time Stanley Cup champion in Detroit.
Lindsay, a faithful Catholic, teamed with two other Hall of Fame members – Gordie Howe and Sid Abel – to form Detroit’s Production Line, a prolific offensive weapon that few NHL teams could match in the 1950’s. Lindsay, despite his smaller size, was talented as both an offensive weapon and a most-feisty defender as he protected linemates Howe and Abel.
The glory days at old Olympia Stadium were a treasured time in Detroit sports history. The Red Wings were at the pinnacle in the old Original Six which included clubs in Boston, Chicago, Montreal, New York and Toronto. Last week, Red Wings historian Greg Innis admitted that Lindsay would refuse to fraternize with opposing players as their teams often traveled on the same train from Windsor to games in Toronto or Montreal. Ted was that much of a competitor!
Sadly, we also lost Lulu Harwell, the wife of the late Ernie Harwell, the Detroit Tigers Hall of Fame broadcaster. “Miss Lulu,” as Ernie affectionately called his wife of more than 60 years, was constantly at his side during a career that took their family from Atlanta to New York to Baltimore to Detroit.
It’s tough saying farewell to people we know and admire in sports. As time marches on, they belong to the ages. For the inspiration they provided us, however, we will always be grateful and blessed.