DETROIT (AP) — Ted Lindsay, the Hall of Famer who provided muscle and meanness on the Detroit Red Wings’ mighty “Production Line” of the 1950s and helped pioneer the first NHL players’ union, died Monday. He was 93.
Lew LaPaugh, president of the Ted Lindsay Foundation, which raises money for autism research, said Lindsay died at his home in Michigan.
Known as “Terrible Ted,” Lindsay was one of the game’s best left wings, a nine-time All-Star who played on four Stanley Cup winners. Lindsay, Sid Abel and Gordie Howe formed an offensive juggernaut of a line that made Detroit the first of the NHL’s great postwar dynasties.
The Hockey Hall of Fame waived its three-year waiting period when it inducted him in 1966. Nine years earlier, he had been elected president of the players’ union he helped organize — and was subsequently traded to Chicago.
“It didn’t matter that they traded me,” he said in 1995. “I have a Red Wing on my forehead and on my behind and on my heart. That will never change.”
Lindsay is credited in 1950 with beginning the ritual in which the championship team skates around rink with the Stanley Cup. Lindsay downplayed his role, saying he simply wanted to bring the Cup closer to the fans.
“I saw it sitting there, and I thought, ‘I’ll just pick it up and I’ll take it over.’ ... I just moved along the boards. I didn’t have it over my head. I had it so they could read it,” he said in 2013. “I wasn’t starting a tradition, I was just taking care of my fans that paid our salary.”
In 2010, the NHL Players’ Association renamed its version of the Most Valuable Player award after Lindsay. The honor, which is chosen by an NHLPA vote, was previously called the Lester B. Pearson Award after the former Canadian prime minister.
Born July 29, 1925, in Renfrew, Ontario, Lindsay joined the Red Wings in the 1944-45 season. He led the NHL with 33 goals in 1947-48 and won the Art Ross Trophy (most points) in 1949-50 when he had 23 goals and a league-best 55 assists.
In 1955, Lindsay scored four goals in a 7-1 victory over Montreal in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
He finished his NHL career with 379 goals and 472 assists in 1,068 games, spending 14 of his 17 seasons with Detroit. With Howe and Lindsay centered first by Abel and then by Alex Delvecchio, the Red Wings won Stanley Cups in 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955.
“We instinctively knew where the opposition was,” Lindsay said at the time of Abel’s death in 2000. “We just understood each other. We knew where to go, so we consequently were efficient.”
The Red Wings have retired Lindsay’s No. 7. During his 14 seasons in Detroit, he led the team in goals only once. But he led or tied for the team lead in penalty minutes 10 times, including his final season of 1964-65 — when he was approaching 40 years old.
Lindsay took his toughness off the ice to organize the players’ association. He then was dealt to Chicago, but had no regrets.
“I was led by a feeling of fairness,” he said. “All of us who were involved in trying to establish the players’ association weren’t the ones who needed it. It was for the fringe players that were the worst off.
“When I got caught up in this, I was so grateful to the game for all it had done for me. But it was a dictatorship on the part of the owners, who didn’t realize any of us had a brain. There we were, sitting there in 1956, these dumb hockey players, and we were going to ruin their game.”
Lindsay retired following the 1959-60 season and focused on his automotive business. He came back for one more season with the Red Wings in 1964-65. Lindsay returned to Detroit as general manager in 1977 and remained in that role until 1980. During the 1980-81 season, he coached the team for 20 games.
When he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, Lindsay declined to attend the banquet because it was an all-male event. The following year, the banquet was open to men and women.
There was no immediate word on funeral arrangements.
AP sports writer Noah Trister in Detroit contributed to this report.