Red Wings past and present salute hockey great Ted Lindsay
The pall bearers escorting Ted Lindsay’s casket into Little Caesars Arena include current Red Wing Dylan Larkin, left, and former Wing Joe Kocur, right. Behind Kocur are Eddie Mio, former Red Wings goalie and an official with the NHL Players Association, founded by Lindsay, and Mike Bayoff, part of the Ilitch organization. Also taking part was Al Sobotka, building operations manager for Olympia Entertainment.
Ted Lindsay had a profound effect on former and current Red Wings during his long and rewarding life.
The body of Lindsay, who died on Monday at the age of 93, lie in state at Little Caesars Arena on Friday as Red Wing fans paid their respects to the man who was nicknamed “Terrible Ted” during his playing career.
Red Berenson, who played with the Red Wings in the 1970s and had a U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame coaching career at the University of Michigan, and veteran Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall talked about how much Lindsay’s efforts in starting a union have done for NHL players over the past 60 years.
“He just felt the players were mistreated (by owners),” Berenson told www.mlive.com. “There wasn’t much structure in the game and the players didn’t have much to stand on, and it was the salaries. I came out of Michigan in 1962 and was offered a job at U.S. Steel for $6,000 a year and the minimum in the NHL was $7,000 a year.
“I don’t think there was a pension until Ted Lindsay bartered to have a pension. I don’t know if there was any health care, moving expenses if you got traded or sent down.”
Said Kronwall: “He changed life for a lot of people, and we should be extremely grateful for where we are as hockey players today.”
More than 30 years after Lindsay played his last NHL game, he was still a strong presence in the Red Wings dressing room at Joe Louis Arena. He had his own locker stall with his name and No. 7 on the plate above it, just like the team’s active players.
Kirk Maltby, now a Detroit pro scout, recalled walking into the room during his first full season with the team in 1996-97 and hearing the sound of weights banging.
“I thought it was a trainer,” Maltby said. “No, it was Ted, getting a good workout in early in the morning. I didn’t want to interrupt his workout and get him mad at me. Afterwards he’d always sit down and talk with the guys.”
Lindsay, 5-8 and 163 pounds as a player, spoke to the team before the 1997 Stanley Cup final, telling them not to be intimidated by Philadelphia’s size advantage. The Red Wings swept the Flyers to end a 42-year championship drought.
“He’s talking about our hockey team and what we’ve done and how fast and competitive we are – don’t worry about the size,” said Kris Draper, a special assistant to general manager Ken Holland.
“He made us better people,” Draper continued. “He made us better hockey players. My favorite times were playoff hockey and Ted Lindsay being in the locker room on game day. It just elevated our intensity and our emotion. When you have the nickname ‘Terrible Ted,’ there’s a reason for that.”
Despite that nickname, Lindsay was a positive example in so many ways.
“Ted had an unbelievable impact on anybody he was around,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “You could honor him for the player he was, you could honor him for how hard-nosed he was, you could honor him for starting the (players association), you could honor him for getting wives and children invited to the Hall of Fame (ceremony), you could honor him for his work with autism, you could honor him for making sure the history of the Detroit Red Wings stayed prominent to the current players.
“Every time he walked into the room, he had every guy’s attention. You could also honor him for what an example of a human being he was. He worked out until the end, he was in unbelievable shape. He said what he believed. You just had so much respect for him.”
Lindsay even had at least a little to do with Hockey Weekly’s Henrik Zetterberg Scholarship Awards.
“Ted was probably the one that encouraged me the most to do work in the community and with charities,” the former Wings captain said. “All the stuff he’s done in Detroit for autism, he’s a true role model for everyone.”
Lindsay also reminded players to never forget the fans, especially the youngest ones.
“He’d say, ‘When you have an opportunity to sign an autograph for a younger fan, make sure you stop and do it,’ ” Draper said.
But make no mistake: on the ice Lindsay was “Terrible Ted” … to opponents.
“If he was on the other team, he was your worst enemy,” Berenson said. “If he was on your team, he was your best friend.”
Larkin out for the weekend
What the Wings believe is a neck sprain, which kept Dylan Larkin out of his team’s 3-2 shootout win over the New York Rangers Thursday night, will also sideline him for Saturday night’s game in Tampa against the Lightning and Sunday evening’s contest in Sunrise, FL, against the Florida Panthers.
“Did a CT scan last night, doctors are looking at it,” general manager Holland said. “Don’t think it’s anything significant, but we want to make sure. Obviously, he’s young and very important to this franchise. We’ll know more in a day or two.”