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A story about a retired Detroit police officer once ‘protecting’ Ted Lindsay

KK reader Kathleen Wood wanted to share a story she'd once discussed with Puck Daddy regarding an incident involving birthday boy Ted Lindsay, who turns 88 today, and her father, a retired Detroit police officer:

I don't think there are too many former police officers that spent time in the penalty box before this practice was quickly stopped:

My Dad, George Gignac, who is a retired Detroit Police Sergent, was assigned twice to Red Wings hockey games around 1947.

The first time he worked traffic on Grand River across from Olympia Stadium. Tiger pitcher Al Newhouser was upset because his car was supposed to be available to get out of the parking lot immediately after the game.  Instead his car was partially blocked by a big pole.  So he decided to leave anyway and scraped the whole side of his car and raced down Grand River.

Because there was no protection for the players from the fans in those days, for a very brief time uniformed precinct police officers were assigned to sit in the penalty box during games. The box was just a board for 4 players to sit on.

Detroit was playing Chicago and there was a big fight involving Lindsay.  Four players were sent to the penalty box and Dad had to kneel behind the players.  There was a lot of yelling, threats and swearing, but Dad was glad there was no fighting in the penalty box since he barely made the Department's height and weight minimum.

When the police commissioner heard about police in the penalty box, he stopped this immediately believing this should be done by private entities.

One time Dad and his partner stopped a car for speeding and it turned out to be Lindsay who stated his occupation down as sales for a car dealer.  [In those days, players could work these types of "part time jobs"]. When asked if he also worked at Olympia Stadium, Lindsay said, "sometimes".

Dad worked on the plainclothes 4-man cruiser. His partners were really big, burly guys, but Dad was very slight of build. They joked that they drove the streets on three wheels because Dad was too light to keep his tire on the ground. Once, they got a call to go to Sid Abel's Bar on Livernois.  Abel wanted to report his championship ring was either stolen or lost but he didn't want uniformed police in the bar.  Later it was reported that the ring was found in the bar.

My Dad was awarded the Purple Heart in WWII, survived cancer, turned 90 this year, lives with Mom in Reno, Nevada and watches all the Red Wing games. The pension troubles in Detroit are extremely worrisome for them and there is little we can do.


Kathleen Wood

I have been a Red Wing fan for about 60 years. At first, it was because my brother and I would get a small glass of pop plus pretzels if we were quiet and watched the TV games with Dad and my Grandpa. Later, it was for love of the team and the game of hockey.

You can say what you will regarding Detroit's municipal bankruptcy versus the funding for the Wings' follow-on rink--and today, the Nation posted quite the uber-liberal take on the issue--but regarding the pensions involved, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is going to represent the pensioners, and while I understand that their pensions represent a significant portion of the city's debts...

When you're talking about some of the lowest-averaging pensions in the nation being owed to people who put 20, 30 or 40 years' worth of service into a city that happened to borrow against the promises they made...Just as it's unfair for the city to short-change its present residents, it ain't fair to tell folks who spent their entire lives contributing to a modest pension instead of a 401K that the city's promises can no longer be kept.

I don't have a good answer as to how the city or State of Michigan can resolve the issue, but these folks have anything but "golden parachutes," and they're surviving on limited incomes, and there's got to be a better way to address the city's debt problem than kicking a bunch of 50-to-80-year-olds off a "fiscal cliff."

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redxblack's avatar

Absolutely right. The cities debts are not because of the pensioners. The pensioners should not be forced to bail out the city. There were banks who engaged in risky behavior, crashed the economy and got double the $19b that Detroit is in the hole for. These pensioners did nothing to deserve this attack. They do not get Social Security because they did not pay into it. Killing their pensions is brutal, extreme and wrong.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 07/29/13 at 02:09 PM ET


My dad retired from the city of Detroit and got both a pension and SS.  I agree with your sentiments however

Posted by beertowndale on 07/29/13 at 06:16 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

I’m in public service in Ohio and I don’t pay SS. I just get my pension (eventually). I guess MI is different. If they axed my pension, I’d get $0.00.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 07/29/13 at 07:46 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Some folks get SS and pensions and some don’t. From my understanding, the firepersons and cops had to put their Social Security $ into their pensions, so they’re completely screwed if the City decides to axe their pensions.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/30/13 at 12:40 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

that’s my situation, too. I worked in the private sector for 11 years and paid into ss, but since I participate in this pension, I am not legally allowed to draw on ss retirement funds. I lost that money.

these pensions aren’t the reason for the problem.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 07/30/13 at 10:02 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.