In honor of Awards Night, I just wanted to give my thoughts on The Ted Lindsay Award.
I'll admit that I have no idea why it was called the Lester B. Pearson award. Pearson won a Nobel Peace Prize in his time in office, and I'm sure, as a Canadian, spent some time in some level of hockey. But if you're going to have an NHLPA MVP, it should be named for someone at least loosely connected with the organization. Though, I guess I should be happy it isn't called the Alan Eagleson award.
During the 90s Lockout, there was a book published called "Net Worth: Exploding the Myths of Pro Hockey," and it opened on the dreary condition of the NHLPA after the players discovered that Alan Eagleson was skimming the players' pension and colluding with owners. The book then went back and traced the origins of unionization in hockey back to Ted Lindsay. That chapter was even turned into a TV movie. Lindsay was courageous at a time when hockey players were treated like circus animals. He was the first to point out the striking similarity in his own compensation and that of Gordie Howe, who had re-signed for a Red Wings jacket at one point. And he suffered for his efforts; he was traded, and his union dismantled.
What would become the current NHLPA was started by Alan Eagleson, and while hockey came out of the Dark Ages under his watch, he would also put his crooked touch on the association's business dealings for a quarter century. This contributed to the weak union that was forced to create 31 year-old RFA's to hold off the salary cap in the 90s, a union that was locked out on two successive CBA's and a union that is terribly suspicious of its head, which may have lead to the dismissal of Paul Kelly. While Eagleson ensured that more money flowed into the sport of hockey, he declined to gave players a fair shake or their fair share of it, which is what Lindsay wanted as a leader and as a player himself.
And so, to the first winner of the Ted Lindsay Award, I say, lift it proudly. Your fellow players have associated you with a great man.