Hockey great Ted Lindsay still going strong at 89

DETROIT - Back then, he was known as "Terrible Ted."

Now, you can call the 89-year-old Ted Lindsay "Durable Ted."

The former professional hockey player stretches 45 minutes every day at his home and pumps iron three days a week at a training room in Troy.

"Always believed in taking care of your body and it will take care of you," Lindsay said.

His fierce devotion to fitness has served him well, from winning four Stanley Cups to beating a seriously health issue earlier this year. His aortic valve had calcified.

"The heart has to work very hard to open that valve. And, actually, the opening can get smaller and smaller to where it's the size of a dime," said Lindsay's surgeon, Beaumont's Dr. Mark Sakwa. "Because he [Lindsay] was in such good shape, we offered him an operation to actually replace the valve."

Lindsay's 3 1/2 hour procedure involved a 3-inch incision, connection to a heart lung machine and temporary stoppage of his heart. But, even in the recovery room, Lindsay was back to doing his daily stretches.

"He went through the whole thing and never had an ounce of pain medication," Lindsay's wife, Joanne, said.

Just a day after his procedure, he was up and walking in the hallway.

"You have to take care of yourself. I'm a firm believer the Lord pays you dividends," Lindsay said.

His comeback from heart surgery comes 50 years after a different kind of comeback.

In 1964, Red Wings coach and former production line member Sid Abel made Lindsay an offer.

"He said, ‘Why don't you come back and play?' I hadn't played in four years," Lindsay said.

He had retired in 1960, but he had kept up his health with regular pickup hockey games at the Windsor arena.

When Lindsay suited up again, now wearing the No. 15, Commissioner Clarence Campbell called it the "blackest day in hockey" when a 39-year-old thought he could play.

Campbell later apologized.

Lindsay scored 14 goals as the Red Wings' defied experts and won the regular season title.

Chicago beat Detroit in Game 7 of the semifinals, which was Lindsay's last game.

"I was a competitor. I was there for only one reason, to win – and produce and give my very best," Lindsay said.

It's what he continues to do every day.

"I want every senior citizen like myself to understand is don't sit in that chair and just vegetate your life away. You don't have to lift weights or run circles around the block. Just get out and exercise," Lindsay said.

For information on Beaumont Hospital's Optimal Aging program, go here.

Ted Lindsay with Gordie Howe

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