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Lynch's death brings end to era

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

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DETROIT – In the time that Ken Kal has been the radio voice of the Red Wings, the native Detroiter never saw, nor heard, Frank Joseph James Lynch in a bad mood.

Even though he spent the majority of his life without a right arm – compliments of combat during World War II – Mr. Lynch, or ‘Budd’ as he was known since his high school days in Hamilton, Ontario, was a blithesome soul.

“For me personally, he was like a father-figure ever since I came in as the radio voice of the Wings,” Kal said. “If I ever had a problem or a question about anything about announcing I could always go up to Budd and he would guide me. There were times, especially early in my broadcasting career when I wasn’t sure of something and he would always have that fatherly instinct of telling you everything is going to be OK. It meant a lot to me because he reminded me a lot of my dad.”

On Tuesday, Kal and the Red Wings’ organization lost a very important member of their hockey family when Budd Lynch died. He was 95.

Mr. Lynch was a part of the Red Wings’ family for 63 years ever since former general manager Jack Adams hired the radio voice away from a Canadian radio station. Besides handling play-by-play duties on radio and TV, Lynch also served stints as the teams director of publicity before becoming the public address announcer at Joe Louis Arena, a position he has held since 1985.

Wings hall-of-famer Ted Lindsay knew Mr. Lynch for nearly seven decades, having worked with the hall-of-fame announcer when Lindsay was a player, as well as a front office executive.

“Joe Louis Arena will certainly miss his voice in the building,” Lindsay said. “He’s been a tradition. He was a loyal Red Wings’ supporter for all of these years. A good man.”

Budd Lynch talks about his early career

Mr. Lynch began his radio career shortly after high school, going to work first for CHML in Hamilton, Ont., in 1936 and a year later he switched to CKOC where he covered news and sports.

After Mr. Lynch returned from the war, he was hired by CKLW where he did play-by-play of Windsor Spitfires games, among other things. The Wings hired him for the 1949-50 season where he had a bird’s eye view of four Stanley Cup championships in six seasons. During his illustrious career, he witnessed 10 of the Wings’ 11 Stanley Cup celebrations.

In his 2008 book, “My Life: From Normandy to Hockeytown”, Mr. Lynch thanked Adams for giving him a shot at broadcasting in the United States.

He said, “Give the one-armed guy a try,’” Mr. Lynch wrote. “‘He’s played the game and he’s broadcast Windsor Spitfires games.” He knew I’d been around hockey.”

In 1985, his outstanding contributions to the radio and TV industry was recognized by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association, who presented him with the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Nine years later, Mr. Lynch was enshrined in the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.

“He knew the game and he’s a good story-teller,” Lindsay said. “He can pull them out of the closet, some things that would be hard to believe, but they were all true.”

Lynch calls Howe's 544th Goal

Despite his handicap, Mr. Lynch was also an avid golfer, who amazed Lindsay with every swing.

“He could hit the ball further with one arm than I could with two,” Lindsay said. “He was just a very generous, happy, kind person. Yeah, we will miss Budd Lynch.”

Kal always enjoyed Mr. Lynch’s friendship and candor, which was always on display, but never so much as it was on a golf course.

“Paul Woods and I were golfing in Eddie Mio’s tournament in Canada like 5-6 years ago,” Kal said. “I had a chance to ride with him for the whole day on the course. Like everybody, I wanted to know how he lost his arm? What was it like when he was hired by Jack Adams? I had all of these questions. For the next five hours all of those questions came out. It was an amazing day for me, especially since I grew-up listening to him and Bruce (Martyn). To be able to talk to him about everything, and to work with him was like working with Ernie Harwell, a legend in broadcasting.

“The way I look at it, Ernie and Budd were like the Babe Ruths and Lou Gerhigs. They’re icons. They set the standard for what broadcasting should be. They’re legends.”

Mr. Lynch is survived by his daughters Janis, Valerie, Mary, Francey, Patricia and Lori.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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