The Players Association
In Ted Lindsay’s era, players were only paid for the six-month hockey season. The Standard Player’s Contract stated that players could not earn money from their hockey careers; albeit directly or indirectly. Moreover, the league would not grant players copies of their own contracts.
The league also didn’t cover hospital costs or doctor visits that ran into the offseason. This meant that many players purchased extra insurance in the event their maladies extended into the summer.
The pension plan was $900 annually per player. The average salary in 1957 was $8,000. Roughly 25 percent of a player’s salary was out of pocket expenses or other costs.
After a chance meeting with Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians in 1956, Lindsay learned that Major League Baseball had signed a contract with lawyers Milton Mound and Norman J. Lewis.
The lawyers were shocked at how little financial commitment the NHL gave to their players. Lewis stated that “the conditions were far worse than any other sport.”
On February 11th, 1957, Ted Lindsay formally announced the creation of the National Hockey League Players Association. The Association wanted to guarantee protection for the player when their playing careers ended as well as increased hospitalization benefits.
In response to stirring the pot and effectively getting under the skin of Clarence Campbell and Jack Adams, Ted Lindsay and Glenn Hall were traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. Transparency and fairness were seen as a sign of greed and lack of gratitude, and management did what they could to quiet the conversation.
The Pension Society board, players assigned to administer pensions, were not allowed to view the true state of the league’s pension fund. If they had, the players would have found a surplus in the league pension plan of several million dollars. The league owners would distribute the money amongst themselves unbeknownst to the players.
Terrible Ted won the Stanley Cup four times (1950, 1952, 1954, 1955) and the Art Ross Trophy in 1950. For his role in establishing the NHL Players Association, the Lester B. Peterson Award was renamed the Ted Lindsay Award. This trophy is given to the player members of the Association vote as the most outstanding player in the league every season.
Patrick Kane received the Ted Lindsay Award at the 2016 NHL Awards for his stellar MVP season, accumulating 106 points in 82 games.
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We will never forget the impact Ted Lindsay left on the NHL and the fans. He will forever be remembered as a legend to all fans of the sport of hockey.