Tough guy ‘led by a feeling of fairness’

DETROIT — Ted Lindsay did what he thought was right.

He pioneered the first NHL players’ union despite opposition from team management, began the tradition of taking the Stanley Cup closer to fans by skating it around the ice and refused to attend his Hall of Fame induction ceremony because only men were allowed.

“I was led by a feeling of fairness,” Lindsay once said.

Lindsay, the 5-foot-8, 160-pound tough guy on the Detroit Red Wings’ famed “Production Line” of the 1950s, died Monday at the age of 93 in his home in Michigan, according to Lew LaPaugh, his son-in-law.

The player known as “Terrible Ted” was one of the game’s best left wings and an 11-time All-Star who played on four Stanley Cup winners in the early 1950s. Lindsay, Sid Abel and Gordie Howe formed a juggernaut of a line that made Detroit one of the first of the NHL’s great postwar dynasties.

He finished his NHL career with 379 goals and 472 assists in 1,068 games, with 14 of his 17 seasons with Detroit. The Red Wings won Stanley Cups in 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955.

Lindsay is credited with beginning the ritual in which players skate around the rink holding the Stanley Cup.

“I thought, ‘I’ll just pick it up and I’ll take it over,’” Lindsay recalled in 2013. “I wasn’t starting a tradition. I was just taking care of my fans.”

Lindsay organized a players’ union despite opposition from team executives.

“Ted Lindsay was one of the best players to ever to put on a pair of skates,” NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said. “But his greatest legacy was off the ice. A true trailblazer in seeking to improve conditions for all players, Ted was instrumental in organizing the original players’ association in 1957. All players, past, current and future, are in his debt.”

The Hockey Hall of Fame waived its three-year waiting period when it inducted Lindsay in 1966, but he declined to attend because his wife and children were not welcome. The following year, the banquet was open to men and women.

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