Around the NHL: Remembering Ted Lindsay, Iginla’s Number Retired

By Ryan Black, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The hockey world lost a giant this week. Ted Lindsay, a legend whose personality blessed the game for more than seven decades, passed away at 93 on Monday.

Lindsay played 14 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings from 1944 until 1957, before a three-season stint with Chicago (he came out of retirement in 1964-65 for a final season in Detroit). He won an Art Ross and four Stanley Cups in his time, playing over 1,000 games and amassing 851 points. On the ice, he was a fierce competitor who truly earned his scar-coated face and “Terrible Ted” nickname.

But Lindsay’s off-ice legacy looms far larger. He was instrumental in the labor fight of the late 1950’s to improve player pay, benefits, and control over their careers. In the glow of history, it’s easy to forget what an uphill climb that was — court battles against the very league that employed him, open hostility from some of the NHL’s most powerful executives of the time, like James Norris and Conn Smythe.

A permanent a player’s union, the National Hockey League Players’ Association, was formed in 1967. And like the league bigwigs Lindsay battled with for players’ rights, he too now has a trophy named after him: The Ted Lindsay Award, until 2010 called the Lester B. Pearson Award, is awarded to the season’s MVP as voted by his fellow players.

There’s too many great things to say about Lindsay, but the Detroit Free Press headline put it pretty well: “A badass on ice, a gentleman off.” It’s a good day to read up on a league legend, but first, look Around the NHL.

Iginla Gets His Due

No. 12 now hangs in the rafters of the Scotiabank Saddledome. Former Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla saw his number raised on Saturday night.

Iginla played 16 of his 20 NHL seasons in Calgary before swinging through Pittsburgh, Boston, Colorado and Los Angeles in its twilight. He holds Flames’ franchise records in nearly every major category. His 1,209 games played are nearly 400 more than second-place, and his 525 goals in the uniform are more than 150 ahead of Theo Fleury’s mark.

Although the closest he came to a Stanley Cup was a Finals loss to Tampa in 2004, Iginla has two Olympic gold medals, exactly 1300 NHL points, and an inarguable first-ballot Hall of Fame resume. He was the first black player to win a gold medal for Canada, only the second (after Dirk Graham) to be the captain of an NHL team, and undoubtedly a trailblazer and inspiration for many in the fantastic wave of young black players currently in the league or climbing the ranks to an NHL roster.

Iginla’s No. 12 is the third number retired by the Flames, joining Lanny McDonald’s No. 9 and Mike Vernon’s No. 30.

John Tavares Unwelcome in Long Island

The New York Islanders are another long-suffering franchise with an uncertain arena situation, but unlike the Senators, the product on-ice has been surprisingly good. Not much was expected from them this season after franchise center John Tavares took his talents to Toronto, but the Isles have settled into comfortable playoff position thanks to good goaltending and team defense.

Fans on the island finally got to greet their former hero on Friday, and they made it well known that he was no longer welcome. Playing in the revamped Nassau Coliseum — the team now splits games between there and the awkward Barclays Center — nearly 14,000 Long Island faithful showered Tavares in disdain when the Toronto Maple Leafs visited on Friday.

Jerseys burned in the parking lot. Plastic snakes and at least one Tavares sweater were thrown on the ice. The franchise aired a friendly tribute video in the first period: It was drowned out by the booing. The Islanders smashed Toronto 6-1, and fans entertained themselves through the waning moment of the third by chanting “It’s your bedtime” and “Where’s your jammies?” in reference to Tavares’s sentimental Twitter announcement of his decision.

Another Week, Another Coach Fired

It’s hard to reconcile the 2017 Ottawa Senators team that was within a goal of the Stanley Cup Finals with a 2019 Ottawa Senators that looks to be years away from mere playoff contention.

Just days after the team completed the gutting of its roster at the Trade Deadline, it fired head coach Guy Boucher. He was the seventh coach fired in-season this year, and with just five weeks remaining, likely the last.

Boucher’s two head coaching stints now look surprisingly symmetrical. Just as he did in Tampa Bay, he took his team to game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in his first season, missed the playoffs in his second, and was fired in the last few weeks of his third. Veteran bench boss Marc Crawford, with 15 seasons coached for five different teams, will take over for now.

For the Senators and their fans, it’s just another low moment in a year to forget. After unloading Erik Karlsson in the offseason, the team suffered minor scandals during a mediocre early start, then plummeted to league-last and traded away every recognizable name on the roster. And just this past week, discussions over a proposed new arena in downtown Ottawa fell apart. The future is unwritten, but it isn’t looking particularly bright right now for the Sens.

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