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On This Day: Ted Lindsay makes his NHL debut with the Red Wings in 1944

It was 74 years ago to the day. The Detroit Red Wings had just signed an impressive 19-year old youngster to a contract days beforehand. Little did that scrappy teenager know he’d take, what “future Ted” would reckon, about 700 stitches across his NHL career. That kid would come to be known as “Terrible” Ted Lindsay, making his NHL debut in a 7-1 victory over the Boston Bruins.

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Standing at just 5’8″ and roughly 160lbs at the time, one wouldn’t think that Lindsay would become one of the most fierce competitors in the league. Averaging roughly 1.69 penalty minutes per game, he’d finish with a career total 1808 minutes in the penalty box over 1068 NHL games. People came to know Ted Lindsay best for his time on the “Production Line”, alongside fellow Red Wings legends Sid Abel, and the one and only Gordie Howe.

The scrappiness and scoring of Lindsay combined with the high-octane scoring of Howe and Abel allowed the Production Line to light up the NHL. In the 1949-50 season, just five seasons into his NHL career, Lindsay ended up top in the league in scoring with 78 points. Additionally, the members of the Production Line ended the season 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the league in scoring, a feat that hasn’t been replicated since. Add to that the fact they won themselves a Stanley Cup Championship that year, and you’d say it was a pretty good year for the future Hall of Famers.

After the 1956-57 season, Ted Lindsay’s career-high year of 85 points in 70 games played, he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. Then-GM Jack Adams caught wind of Lindsay trying to unionize the Red Wings players and retaliated by shipping him to Chicago alongside goaltender Glenn Hall in a blockbuster deal. The trade would go down as one of the worst for Detroit in Red Wings history. Ted Lindsay played a couple uninspired, albeit not bad, seasons with the Blackhawks before calling it a career. (Glenn Hall would go on to be a Hall of Fame goaltender, while none of the acquisitions by Detroit got much traction with the team).

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Unsatisfied with the fact that he’d technically ended his career as a Blackhawk, Ted Linsday did what many have attempted and failed; he made a comeback. Four years later, for the 1964-65 season, and against the wishes of many of his loved ones and peers, Lindsay signed a 1-year deal with Detroit. Even at 39-years old at the time, he managed 14 goals among 28 points in 69 games that season. He also tallied 173 regular season penalty minutes; 11 shy of his single-season career high of 184.

Ted Lindsay is known fondly around Detroit, still working closely with the Red Wings organization, alongside his foundation, the Ted Lindsay Foundation. The foundation raises money and supports research and educational programs that focus on the cause and management of autism. He still regularly does events and signings with the Red Wings and is looked on fondly by fans from every generation.

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