Keating: Lindsay had will to win at whatever cost

It should tell you everything you need to know about Ted Lindsay that in the final game of his career, at the age of 39, he was given a 10-minute misconduct penalty for screaming at the referee.

Nothing comes easy, unless you put it all on the line.

Lindsay, who died Monday at 93, was small of stature but a classic example of size of heart.

He cracked the NHL at the age of 19, and was the left wing alongside Sid Abel and fellow legend Gordie Howe on The Production Line, helping the Red Wings win four Stanley Cups in a span of six years.

How does one earn the nickname Terrible Ted?

The will to win at whatever cost. The NHL got together and decided penalties should be called based on how Lindsay played the game. It was Ted’s play that added elbowing and kneeing to the list of things a player could not do.

He could sleep well with this personal credo: “I hated everybody I played against and they hated me.”

He was a man of conviction. In how he played and how he lived. Lindsay put his career on the line when he was at the forefront of the creation of the NHL Players’ Association. It led to the Red Wings banishing him to the worst team in the league at the time, the Blackhawks. It also created a rift with his linemate, Mr. Hockey, who just wanted to play the game.

After three seasons in Chicago, Lindsay retired for four years and then was invited back to the NHL by Abel, who was running the Red Wings at the time. In typical Lindsay-esque fashion, he thought, “Why not?” He made the team at the age of 39 and helped them to a playoff spot.

Detroit became home. And Lindsay was a fixture at any charity function or dinner that made a request. His foundation has raised more than $4 million for autism research.

And at those events or even around Joe Louis Arena, what you’d remember always was the handshake. Firm and steely and always with a smile attached.

That smile within creases and repairs to a face best described as craggy. Sure there were 600 stitches, but there was also a statue and a retired number: No. 7.

Oh, and four Stanley Cups. And that tradition of players picking up the Cup and taking a lap with it? That was Lindsay’s idea, way back in the day. And, of course, it made a statement.

“I recognized who was paying my salary and it wasn’t the owners,” Lindsay said at the time. “I saw all the people sitting there, so I picked it up and took it to them.”

For his strength in character, the honor annually voted on by the players for the best in the game in hockey is now known as the Ted Lindsay award.

What a life it was. Isn’t one’s value, at the end for all of us, based on how much was done for others? Then the guy dubbed Terrible Ted can truly sleep easy now.