By re-naming their NHL MVP award after visionary and founding father Ted Lindsay, which they’ll do tomorrow, the NHLPA will finally get something right. It’s a miracle, really. Considering that the inner workings of the PA have been an industry joke – essentially forever. No union worth anything would use a sports league’s PA as a business model. But the NHLPA geniuses have finally made a decision that makes sense. And Ted Lindsay richly deserves the honour.
Ted Lindsay began his NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings, under the iron fist of Jack Adams, in 1944. By 1957, the 32-year old Lindsay was a veteran – and was tired of being stonewalled when requesting information from the NHL on the players’ pension plan. And NHL owners of the 1950s, being the doddling oafs that they were, simply decided that they could solve the problem of Lindsay trying to organize the Wings by dealing him to Chicago. So that’s what they did.
In Detroit, Lindsay was the tough guy on the “Production Line,” with Gordie Howe on the right side and Sid Abel in the middle. Their Red Wings won four Stanley Cups between 1950 and ’55. But, no matter, Lindsay was a s—t disturber, so he was out. But, in Detroit, Lindsay had planted the players’-association seed.
Lindsay’s union aspirations drove a personal wedge between him and Howe and Lindsay spent three years in exile in Chicago, retired, then came back for one final season in Detroit in 1964-65. In 1967, the current version of the NHLPA was founded, with Alan Eagleson at the helm. After 24 years leading the PA, Eagleson was removed after it was revealed he’d been defrauding clients and skimming money from tournaments involving NHL players. Since then, Bob Goodenow, Ted Saskin, Paul Kelly, Ian Penny and Mike Ouellet have all served the NHLPA as its Executive Director – or “Clown-in-Charge.”
But by re-naming the Lester B. Pearson Award in honour of “Terrible” Ted Lindsay, the NHLPA is finally, officially recognizing its founder. The Pearson was first awarded in 1971 to the league’s MVP. But players will tell you it carries more meaning than the NHL’s Hart Trophy because it’s voted on by NHL players – peers – rather than the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
Well done, Ted Lindsay. Years ago, you had the guts and courage to stand up to the old boys’ club that ran the NHL. Tomorrow, you’ll stand up and receive the reward you deserve.