Monday, May 12, 2008Ted Lindsay: Konstantinov was 'greatest hockey player in the world'
paul egan / The Detroit News
DETROIT -- Hockey great Ted Lindsay testified today that Vladimir Konstantinov was the greatest hockey player in the world at the time of his devastating injury in a 1997 limousine crash and possibly the greatest defenseman of all time.
Lindsay, 82, who won four Stanley Cups with the Red Wings, told a civil trial in U. S. District Court that Konstantinov would have led the Wings to two more Stanley Cups following their 1997 victory and possibly more if he had not been injured.
Konstantinov and Sergei Mnatsakanov, the team masseur, who both suffered serious head injuries in the crash, are suing the Ohio Ford Motor Co. dealership that sold the stretch limousine in which they were riding when they crashed on Woodward Avenue in Birmingham.
Mnatsakanov is paralyzed from the waist down while Konstantinov suffered a serious head injury that makes it difficult for him to talk, walk and remember things.
Konstantinov was 30 at the time of the crash. Lindsay testified he could have played into his 40s.
"He was the greatest machine in the world," Lindsay told the jury of five men and three women. Today, "I see this vegetable and to me it just kind of makes me sick (compared) to what was the greatest hockey player in the world."
Lindsay said he understood the chauffer had been impaired at the time of the crash. "People like that, they should be shot," he said.
Richard Gnida, the limo driver, fell asleep at the wheel. He was given nine months in jail for operating the vehicle without a driver's license, which had been suspended for numerous infractions.
The crash happened just six days after the Wings won their first NHL championship in 42 years and stunned hockey fans across the state and nation.
The trial continues before U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh.
You can reach Paul Egan at (313) 222-2069 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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