Ted Lindsay was born on July 29, 1925 in Renfrew, Ontario, and from birth, he seemed destined to be a hockey player. His father, Bert, played professional hockey as a goaltender for several teams in the National Hockey Association and for a pair of NHL teams before retiring after the 1918-19 season. When the Great Depression hit in 1929, the Lindsay family moved north from Renfrew to Kirkland Lake, Ontario so Bert could work in the gold mines. It was in Kirkland Lake that Ted grew up, went to school and began to develop the hockey skills that would ultimately lead him to his career as a star player in the NHL.
Ted received his first pair of skates from a childhood neighbor. While the skates were much too large, the discomfort was no match for his zeal to be on the ice. By the time Bert came up with enough money to buy a proper pair for his son, Ted was already hooked on the thrill of backyard rinks and frozen ponds. Hockey quickly became his childhood passion. Ted was involved in the game in Kirkland Lake up until 1942 when he helped lead his hometown juvenile team to an Ontario Minor Hockey Association provincial title. The following year, Ted, accompanied by another future NHL player in teammate Gus Mortson, went to play junior hockey in Toronto for the St. Michael’s Majors. It was during his time with the Majors that Carson Cooper, the chief scout for Detroit, approached Ted for the first time and expressed interest in making him a Red Wing.
Before reaching the professional ranks, Ted was added to an Oshawa Generals lineup that would capture the 1944 Memorial Cup — emblematic of major junior hockey supremacy in Canada. That championship would be the final chapter in Ted’s amateur hockey career, as he earned a spot on the Red Wing’s lineup at the age of 19 the following season. He spent the next 13 seasons as a left winger for Detroit, helping to build the team into an NHL powerhouse.
From 1944-45 to 1956-57, Ted was part of the Red Wings team that won four Stanley Cups and boasted “The Production Line,” the top line in the league. “Terrible Ted” served as a fiery contributor to the line, along with Gordie Howe and Sid Abel, and he filled up scoresheets with goals and assists while playing a tough, physical brand of hockey. For his play in the 1949-50 season, Ted was crowned the Art Ross Trophy winner as the league’s leading scorer with 78 points in 69 games.
Ted only stood 5’8″ and weighed 168 pounds in his playing days, but despite being small in stature, he gave nothing away. He fought for his space on the ice and for his teammates. His on-ice skirmishes are the stuff of hockey legend. During his first 13 seasons wearing the “Winged Wheel,” Ted scored 321 goals and had 403 assists while being named a first-team All-Star eight times. The final season of his first tour of duty with Detroit, 1956-57, saw him establish a new career high in points (85) while leading the league in assists (55).