DETROIT – The plan is no different than past years.
Maybe a little morning workout followed by a nap in the afternoon. Later on enjoy a celebratory dinner and a small birthday cake.
Ted Lindsay has done a subdued birthday in northern Michigan with his family for as long as he can remember. However, this milestone will include a cake decorated with nine candles for the hall-of-famer’s 90th birthday today.
Though he admits, this anniversary brings with it special meaning and reflection for a former NHL all star who was known as much for the number of stitches he received to close facial lacerations as he was for the points he registered during an illustrious career that included 14 seasons with the Red Wings.
“It’s just another day in what has been a very quick life, but a wonderful life,” Lindsay said during a phone call last week from Harbor Springs. “I did everything that I love to do, played the greatest game in the world with some of the greatest players in the world, and against some of the greatest players.”
As a player, Lindsay was a showman, entertaining the multitudes as a charter member of the famed Production Line with Sid Abel and Gordie Howe. Lindsay is one of six players to have four Stanley Cup rings from the Wings’ dynasty of the 1950s. He also spearheaded a crusade to form the first NHL players’ association, which led to his trade to Chicago 58 years ago this month.
Lindsay finished playing in 1965, an 11-time all star, who won the Art Ross Trophy in 1950 as the league’s leading point producer, ahead of Abel and Howe, who finished second and third that year. He stepped into the front office as the sixth general manager in franchise history in 1976 and remained at the helm until 1980.
Hockey has given Lindsay a comfortable living, which now begins a 10th decade. He doesn’t dwell on the past. He lives for the here and now, though he says it’s fun to look back occasionally on the previous 89 years.
“I would say yes to that because to go into the twilight of your life, I guess, you never think of too many things,” Lindsay said. “Who thinks about 90 years of age? I played the greatest game in the world and never thought about it. But it’s one day at a time. That’s my philosophy, and now, even more so.”
Lindsay remains very active, physically as well as in the community. He continues to be an outstanding ambassador for the franchise and its alumni group, as well as overseeing the foundation that bears his name.
“Ted is just a remarkable human-being. He’s always willing to participate with many of our Red Wings’ events and requests,” said Mike Bayoff, the Red Wings of director of strategic hockey alliances. “His commitment still to the Red Wings, the alumni association and the community are unmatched.”
For the past 15 years, Lindsay has incorporated his ideology to assist those less fortunate. The 90-year-old started the Ted Lindsay Foundation in 2000 to help raise money so that medical researchers may one day find a cure for autism. The past 10 years, Kroger has joined forces with Lindsay to draw greater awareness to autism, which affects one in 68 children, and one in every 42 boys.
“I’m still interested in finding what the cure is and raising money,” Lindsay said. “That’s where the Kroger stores have been such a great Godsend to me and my foundation.”
Lindsay plans to continue his mission for as long as it takes to find a cure.
“I hope the good Lord takes care of me until we find out what is causing this epidemic in Europe, Canada and the United States,” he said.
The foundation will hold their 15th annual celebrity golf outing on Sept. 14 at Pine Lake Country Club in West Bloomfield Township. All of the current Red Wings usually play in this event.
Last year, the foundation donated $1 million to establish the Ted Lindsay Foundation HOPE (Hands-On Parent Education) Center at Beaumont Children’s Hospital. It’s there that families receive supportive help in coping with developmental disorders.
“I’ve been very lucky, but just because you’ve been lucky doesn’t mean you take things for granted,” Lindsay said. “You want to do things for people. We’re lucky enough to have some talent to play the game I played.”
Two years ago, Lindsay underwent aortic valve-replacement surgery. Though he says that’s not why he doesn’t golf anymore.
“No, golf is not my game,” he said. “I was so happy that there was frozen water. I live on a golf course, too. It’s fun, but it never was my game, and then, of course, I had 10 screws and two rods in my back so I don’t go through the ball anymore. I’m one of those men who aren’t bothered when my wife beats me on the golf course. I’m fine with that.”