January 22, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Gregg Krupa

Budd Lynch's graceful presence will be missed at Wings' home opener

2009 Budd Lynch interview
2009 Budd Lynch interview: In 2009, Budd Lynch celebrated his 60th year in the Red Wings organization.

Media row in Joe Louis Arena is a fairly rarified atmosphere. Scribes and announcers mix with NHL officials, scouts, Red Wings officials and staff, and those of the opposing teams.

But we are down one, this evening. And the sense is that this loss is particularly weighty because of the character of the man.

Budd Lynch will not arrive tonight and make his gentle walk down the line, nodding to some, saying hello to many, sharing an occasional observation and personifying the idea that the tradition of professional hockey in this city is inviolate, before taking his place in the announcer's booth.

Lynch died Oct. 9, after a brief illness and 63 years after he first began broadcasting the play-by-play of the Wings.

From 1949 until 1975, variously on radio and television, his was a voice that lit the winter's night, in Detroit. He described the first generation of "glory years" for the Red Wings, including the Stanley Cup wins in 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955.

It was most often through Lynch's eyes and voice that Detroiters experienced Gordie Howe.

When he left the broadcast booths he became the arena announcer for the Red Wings. His voice provided a visceral link between the team of the Olympia and the team of Joe Louis Arena, reflecting the long historical span of the NHL franchise in Detroit.

As the arena announcer, Lynch called out official word of scoring plays and penalties until last season, including the Stanley Cup wins in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008.

His is a voice so honored by fans, players and ownership alike, that a recording of Lynch's voice will continue to announce, "Last minute of play in this period," for each home game.

Among so many things, I will miss his instruction of how we should observe the playing of the national anthems, American and Canadian.

For he knew of what he spoke.

Before the many long years of his critical role in providing wonderful memories for sports fans in Detroit, Lynch was a war hero.

He landed on Juno Beach at Normandy, in France, with the Canadian army. Two weeks later, at Caen, a German infantry rocket, a "Screaming Mimi," ripped into his right side, taking off his arm.

Throughout his life, before anyone asserted any pity, Lynch stopped them.

The Germans had three types of Screaming Mimis. Two were designed to detonate on contact. A third, the one that hit Lynch, was designed to pierce armor, then explode.

"He felt fortunate, at least, that he got hit with something he was going to survive," said Bob Duff of The Windsor Star, who wrote an "as told to" book with Lynch called "My Life: From Normandy to Hockeytown."

Always a gracious, graceful, self-effacing man, however, Lynch basically thought his years in the war were simple duty, to his country.

Speaking, I am sure, for many, we will miss Lynch's walk along media row tonight. We will miss him greatly.

A recording of Budd Lynch's voice will continue to announce, "Last minute of play in this period," for each Red Wings home game. / David Guralnick / Detroit News