Hall of Famer Sid Abel, who centered the Detroit Red Wings' famed "Production Line" with Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay on the wings, died in a suburban hospital. He was 81.
Botsford Hospital spokeswoman Barbara Fordell today confirmed that Abel died late Monday or early this morning.
Abel began his NHL career in 1938 in Detroit, spending nine full seasons and parts of three others in a Red Wings uniform. The one-time Hart Trophy winner was captain of the team in the 1942-43 season and from 1946 through the 1951-52 season.
Abel spent 32 years in the Red Wings organization as a player, general manager, coach and broadcaster.
Howe said today that Abel was someone the whole team looked up to. Abel was captain when Howe began his 25-year career with the Red Wings in 1946.
"I learned a lot from him from just listening," he said. "When I was around Sid, that's the way it was. He was our captain and leader ... he won in every aspect of the game. He had a full life as far as hockey goes."
Abel's No. 12 jersey was retired in 1995.
"I'm a Red Wing, through and through," Abel said at the time. "Detroit did so many things for me."
Abel's best year in Detroit was the 1949-50 season when he set career highs in goals (34) and points (69).
He was a member of Detroit's Stanley Cup teams in 1943, 1950 and 1952, and the Production Line was largely responsible for the Red Wings' success.
After a stint as player-coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, Abel took some time off from hockey before taking over as Detroit's coach midway through the 1957-58 season.
He left Detroit again in 1971 but returned in 1976-77 as an analyst on the team's radio and television broadcasts. His last season as a broadcaster was in 1985-86.
Abel's number joined those of Howe (9), Lindsay (7), Alex Delvecchio (10) and Terry Sawchuk (1) in the rafters of Joe Louis Arena.
A native of Melville, Saskatchewan, Abel was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969.
©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed