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'Terrible Ted' to be immortalized

by John McGourty
For the second time in three nights, the Detroit Red Wings will unveil a statue Saturday at Joe Louis Arena dedicated to one of their greatest players and one of the greatest players in NHL history.

The statue honoring Theodore "Terrible Ted" Lindsay, by artist David Arrigo, will stand in the concourse next to the statues of Gordie Howe and Alex Delvecchio. On Thursday night, the Red Wings unveiled Delvecchio's statue. Howe's statue was unveiled in 2007.

The statue that will immortalize Lindsay is one of two great honors he'll receive this week. On Wednesday, Lindsay will receive the Lester Patrick Award, along with Phil Housley, Bob Naegele Jr. and Brian Burke, for his contributions to American hockey.

"What a wonderful week," Lindsay said. "When you play a game that you love, look what you get."

While Lindsay is obviously thrilled by the honor, there's always been a side of him that leads to quotes like this: "I often think of the times that I've visited different cities and walked down major boulevards or through the public parks and see the statues of famous people who discovered this or that, or the pioneers in the founding of the country and ... the birds crap all over them. I'm glad my statue will be indoors. Hopefully, there're no birds in Joe Louis Arena."

"The Production Line II," comprised of Delvecchio centering left wing Lindsay and right wing Howe, was one of hockey's greatest and it followed the original "Production Line" of Lindsay, Howe and Sid Abel. The Red Wings won the NHL's regular-season title seven straight seasons from 1949-55 and four Stanley Cups in that time, in 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955.

The Red Wings won the first two Stanley Cups with Abel at center and the last two with Delvecchio in the pivot.

"We had great teams and we had great chemistry," Lindsay said. "Everybody was for everybody. If a goal was scored against us, it wasn't the right winger's fault, it wasn't the defense's fault, it wasn't the goalie's fault. It was OUR fault, all six guys on the ice.

"On the Production Line, we were all gifted with talent. In my time, I was the best left winger in the world. We knew, instinctively, where each of us was on the ice. Sid Abel was like a father to Gordie and me. He was just back from World War II and was a great asset to us because we were inexperienced and we were a great asset to him because we had young legs. I had great respect for him.

"Alex was a tremendous player. In his first two seasons, when he was on the other line, Gordie and I would sit on the bench and just marvel at what he did with the puck. He reminds me of Pavel Datsyuk, that caliber of player. Alex was very easygoing and it looked like he wasn't moving fast because he was an effortless skater. But nobody ever chased him and caught him. He was a gifted passer who could put the puck on your stick like it was a feather."

Lindsay was a highly skilled player who competed with a ferocity rarely seen in any sport, hence the nickname. In a high percentage of vintage Lindsay photos, he's bleeding. If there's an opponent in the photo, most likely, he's bleeding too. He was good because there was an inner fire that demanded it.

Lindsay was smaller than a lot of NHL players, but he used everything at his disposal. Legend has it that the NHL created the elbowing and kneeing penalties to counteract some of Lindsay's actions.

Lindsay grew up in the gold-mining town of Kirkland Lake, Ontario, and played juniors with the St. Michael's Majors. At season's end, he and fellow Kirkland Laker Gus Mortson joined the Oshawa Generals and helped them to the 1944 Memorial Cup. Lindsay joined the Red Wings the next season.

Lindsay played 17 seasons in the NHL, the first 13 and his last one with Detroit. In 1,068 NHL games, Lindsay scored 379 goals and added 472 assists for 851 points. He also had 1,808 penalty minutes. In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Lindsay had 47 goals and 49 assists for 96 points in 133 games.

Lindsay led the NHL in scoring during the 1949-50 season, winning the Art Ross Trophy with 23 goals and a League-leading 55 assists in 69 games. Lindsay also led the NHL with 55 assists in 1956-57, his last season in Detroit. Lindsay led all Stanley Cup performers in 1952 with 5 goals and 7 points. He led the playoffs with 6 assists in 1949.
"We had great teams and we had great chemistry. Everybody was for everybody. If a goal was scored against us, it wasn't the right winger's fault, it wasn't the defense's fault, it wasn't the goalie's fault. It was OUR fault, all six guys on the ice." -- Ted Lindsay
Lindsay can back up his claim that he was "the best left winger in the NHL during my career." He was named to the NHL First All-Star Team eight times, including five years in a row from 1950-54. He was also named to the team in 1948 and 1956-57. He was named to the NHL Second All-Star Team in 1949. Lindsay played in the NHL All-Star Game 11 times in his first 13 seasons.

Lindsay was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in 1957. He played three seasons there and retired. Four years later, Abel, then Red Wings general manager, talked him into returning for another season. He had 28 points that season at age 40, two more than he had in his final season with Chicago.

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