Yesterday the Detroit Red Wings lost one of their most legendary figures, although he never wore the Winged Wheel.
Many Red Wing fans have only known Budd Lynch as the voice at Joe Louis Arena who announced goals and penalties, while letting the crowd and players know that, “There’s one minute left to play in the period” and who the three stars were at the end of the game.
But he was so much more.
He was Hall of Fame broadcaster, the unofficial historian of Red Wing hockey, the Ambassador of Hockeytown, and one of the nicest persons you would ever want to meet. (he also possessed a wonderful sense of humor)
As the team’s longest tenured employee (1949 to 2012) Lynch was the only link between Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, and the multiple Stanley Cup Champions of the 1950’s to Steve Yzerman, Nik Lidstrom, and the most recent Stanley Cup years.
No one in the world witnessed more Red Wing games than Budd Lynch.
From 1949 to 1975 he was a radio and tv broadcaster for the Wings before working for nearly a decade as head of the public relations department. Just weeks after his 1985 retirement and induction into the Hockey League Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Foster Hewitt award, Marian Ilitch convinced him to stay on as the PA announcer and to work in the community relations department.
I had the pleasure to sit next to him in his booth for an entire Red Wings game in 2004 when I was profiling him for an article in the Detroit Free Press.
As we entered the booth, Lynch, nicknamed the “one-armed bandit” after losing his right arm in World War II while snooping in on a Nazi machine gun placement in Caen, France, taped the game roster on the oiled counter in front of his microphone (so they wouldn’t fly away) and then double checked the phonetics of the names of the San Jose Sharks before stacking in order his game announcements. While I sat in a chair, Lynch stood for the next 2 1/2 hours announcing game information to a sellout crowd. He was 86 years old at the time.
Unlike PA announcers in most arenas, Lynch was old school and maintained a neutral inflection when announcing goals for both teams.
“I see my role as simply relaying information to the crowd, not to act as a cheerleader” he told me. He also said, “I’ve been very fortunate and privileged to fall from one part of the Red Wing coverage to another.” With a twinkle in his eye and a sheepish grin on his face he added, “I also like to tell folks that I’ve never had to pay to see a game.”
However Budd Lynch was so much more than a hockey personality.
Besides raising thousands of dollars for the past 23 years with his annual celebrity golf outing that benefited children’s programs at the Guidance Center in Southgate, the long time Wyandotte resident continued a life long mission of encouraging and assisting recent amputees.
He told me: “I believe in the credo of the War Amputations of Canada of which I am a proud member. That is, ‘Assess a person for what he has, not for what he has not.’”
Let’s just say Budd Lynch had a lot, and many, many people are very lucky for that.