DETROIT — Before there was Steve Yzerman, there was Marcel Dionne.
Before there was Marcel Dionne, there was Gordie Howe.
And almost before there was Gordie Howe, there was Budd Lynch.
Think about that for a moment.
Howe broke in with the Red Wings during the 1946-47 season, and three years later, Budd Lynch began a career with the Red Wings organization that spanned more than 60 years.
Lynch died early Tuesday following a brief illness at a Detroit-area rehabilitation center, the team said in a release. He was 95.
Lynch, the team’s public address announcer since 1985, had 63 years of service with the Red Wings, making him the longest-tenured employee in team history.
It’s amazing. Players come and go, but Budd Lynch was always there … as a television and radio broadcaster, then as an announcer and later, for me, as a colleague and friend.
When I was growing up in Detroit, my parents allowed me to have a television in my bedroom — a decision they later regretted because all I did was watch sports on TV.
Needless to say, any time a Detroit team was on the tube, I was in my bedroom catching all the action. That’s when I first became familiar with Budd.
His laid back style — letting the game come to him instead of creating some hysterical diatribe about something that wasn’t really happening — was his gift.
Of all the games I’ve ever watched on TV or heard on the radio, there aren’t too many calls I can remember. Perhaps it’s because most announcers have a catch phrase that becomes their signature call, and after awhile, all the calls sound the same.
Except for Budd, who made one call I’ll never forget.
It came when the Red Wings were getting hammered by the Blues in St. Louis. It was 1971, Marcel Dionne’s rookie season, and the Wings weren’t very good. But there was a lot of excitement surrounding Detroit’s prized No. 1 pick, Dionne.
As the game progressed, the Wings were down by seven or eight goals, but I didn’t turn off the television. Like everybody in Detroit, I was waiting to see Dionne score his first goal as a Red Wing.
If my memory serves me correct, in the third period of the blowout loss, Dionne scored and Budd simply said, “The kid scores!”
That said it all, and I’ll never forget it.
Budd Lynch said a lot by not saying too much. Whether he was calling a hockey game, announcing at the Joe or his standard greeting whenever he saw me — “Arthur, my boy!” — you always knew what the score was.
With Budd Lynch everybody was a winner — except for today.
We’ve lost a voice that was profound in its simplicity and a man who never let his ego become part of the game.