HodgePodge: Terrible Ted
By Charlie Hodge.
Terrible Ted is dead.
The truth is – Ted was really not terrible at all – unless you wore the other uniform.
Ted Lindsay, legendary hockey forward with the Detroit Red Wings died last week at age of 93. His nickname was earned from his on ice reputation as a ferocious competitor and perhaps the toughest all time player in the NHL.
Ted was not a large player, (5’8″ 163 lbs.) however as the popular adage states: ‘It’s not the size of the man in the fight it’s the size of the fight in the man’. For Kennedy scrapping on the ice was as natural as putting on his skates. When Ted was not pummeling opponents with his fists he was hammering them into boards, knocking them down in front of the net, or staring them in the eye with a menacing no-nonsense sneer. Few messed with Ted.
However Ted was much more than a brawler. In fact he was a very talented player scoring 379 goals and 852 points during his 17 year career. An all-star 11 times career Ted spent many years playing on a line with Gordie Howe and Sid Abel and won the scoring title in 1950. He also picked up 96 playoff points.
Lindsay captained the Wings to four Stanley Cups and, according to Renfrew star journalist John Carter, “Ted started the tradition of hoisting the cup and skating around the ice showing it to fans after it was presented. After all, it was the fans who paid his salary, not the owners, he was quoted as saying.”
Lindsay’s most famous and respected battle in hockey however was not with another player but with the league and it’s often abusive hierarchy and sometimes nefarious owners. It was Ted who at the sake of his own career spearheaded the first player’s association, which later becomes the NHL players union. His determination to see players paid and treated fairly by teams and owners, and not bought, sold, and abused like owned cattle ultimately cost him. Amongst other punishments, Ted was dealt to Chicago by Detroit for his disruptive war with the owners. Despite the personal price he paid Ted never backed down on his defence of players. In 2010 the NHL Players’ Association renamed the award given to the most outstanding player in a season as voted by his peers the Ted Lindsay Award.
After three long years with the Hawks and then three years in retirement, Lindsay was heroically welcomed back to the Wings the 1964-65 season. In typical Lindsay fashion, he scored 14 goals along with 14 assists and 173 penalty minutes and then retired again. Lindsay definitely earned his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
I had the pleasure of meeting Ted a few times in my life. The first time while on a book signing tour with Howie Meeker after I wrote Meeker’s biography (Golly Gee – It’s Me). We spend an enjoyable evening chatting with Ted and I listened with wide-eyed enthusiasm as the two infamous characters exchanged laughs and memories.
On the ice Ted and Howie fought often. “He was one of the toughest S.O.B’s in the game. Even tougher than Richard. We fought all the time. Ironically everybody thought Gordie Howe and I fought a lot but half the time I was scrapping with Gordie and Ted would come along and decide to take over. Hell, Gordie never needed any help he was tough enough on his own,” Howie chuckles.
A humorous moment Howie recalls is when he was serving as a Member of Parliament while playing with the Leafs. He was about to tangle with Lindsay in a fight when Lindsay threw a political shot saying, “Come and get it ‘your honourable asshole’.”
But more than his terror on ice Lindsay is widely known for a being a class act gentleman. “He was one of the nicest guys you could meet – off the ice,” Howie says. Indeed – Terrible Ted will always be recalled as a unique, outstanding person.
In acknowledging his passing the NHL Alumni Association said “A gentleman, a multiple Stanley Cup winner, an honoured member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, a fan of the game, and a dedicated member of the NHL Alumni … A great loss for the entire hockey community. Our thoughts are with the Lindsay family.”
For further on Ted read John’s article at The link to the story on the Renfrew Mercury website is: https://www.insideottawavalley.com/news-story/9206156-hall-of-famer-ted-lindsay-dies-at-93/
Speaking of hockey playoffs and because I now believe in miracles – I am officially declaring way ahead of that extra season that the Toronto Maple Leafs will win the Stanley Cup this year.
Since my ‘miracle’ survival from life support and C02 poisoning in January I have become a firm believer in the near impossible. I recognize that for the Leafs (my childhood idols) to win the coveted trophy this year it may take a miracle – but I now know for sure they can happen. So….
Go Leafs Go. (Howie will be so proud).