Detroit Red Wings legend Ted Lindsay is mourning a man who was cut from the same ragged cloth with the passing of 98-year-old Boston Bruins icon Milt Schmidt on Wednesday.
"I heard the sad news about 10 minutes ago from a friend who called, knowing how close we were," Lindsay said from his home near Detroit.
"Milt was a competitor who took no prisoners. His personality was a lot like mine. He hated everybody he played against, but he was a great example for hockey. I kind of knew he was having trouble with his health. I was looking forward to seeing him in Boston next month, but that will not be."
The careers of Lindsay, 91, nicknamed "Terrible Ted" during his Hall of Fame career, and Schmidt, leader of the Bruins' renowned "Kraut Line," intersected for a decade, from the mid-1940s through the mid-1950s. Their battles were the stuff of legend, neither giving the other an inch on the ice. When they got inside that inch, fireworks would follow.
"I will say without hesitation that Milt was the greatest competitor I ever played against," Lindsay said. "He and Rocket Richard of the [Montreal] Canadiens, who I had my share of battles with, were different hockey players. From the blue line in, Rocket was the greatest to ever play the game. Milt was just a great leader and a force everywhere on the ice.
"It was a pleasure to play against Milt," Lindsay said. "Well, let me rephrase that. It was a miserable pleasure. Just remember, today hockey lost one of its greatest ambassadors in Milt."
In Brian McFarlane's 1999 book "The Bruins," Lindsay spoke about Schmidt's style of play that Bruins fans adored -- if not so much those of the other Original Six NHL teams of the day.
"Milt was a tremendous team player and a great skater," Lindsay said. "They can talk about the wonderful skaters in the game today all they want, but those people never saw Milt in his prime. And tough!
"Why, he could come down on the right side and if he didn't make it through, he would turn and come down on the left side. And if you stopped him there, he'd grab the puck again and this time he'd come down the middle and skate right on top of you. And he would hurt you. There were some jarring collisions when he did that. It took a brave person to stand in his way."
Hall of Fame center Elmer Lach of the Montreal Canadiens surrendered to Schmidt the crown of being the NHL's oldest living player when he passed away on April 4, 2015, at age 97.
"He was a miserable cuss," Lach once said of Schmidt. "He was hell to play against and he gave as good as he got. I might be limping for days after I played against him. But I was always happy to know that Milt was probably doing the same."