When Red Wings radio color commentator Paul Woods came to Detroit as a young player in 1977, he first met Budd Lynch.
At the time, Lynch served as Detroit's public relations director, one of several hats the longtime Wyandotte resident would wear in his 63 years with the Red Wings organization.
Lynch, who died Tuesday at age 95 after battling a brief illness at a local rehabilitation center, most recently served as the Red Wings' public address announcer, a post he held from 1985 though last season. He first came to Detroit in 1949 as a radio play-by-play announcer and was the longest-tenured Red Wings employee in the organization's history, according to the team.
Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch acknowledged Lynch's legacy with the team.
“Budd Lynch was a dear member of the Detroit Red Wings family and legendary icon of our community,” Ilitch said in a written statement. “Hearing Budd’s voice on the radio and over the public address at Joe Louis Arena was something that every Red Wings fan looked forward to and loved. His calm, friendly and distinguished voice was symbolic of who Budd was as a person. He always had a smile on his face, an upbeat spark in his voice and a kind and encouraging word for everyone he met."
'An Ambassador of the Game'
"(Lynch) was an ambassador of the game," Woods said. "He's one of those very few people in the world who can't be replaced but will always be remembered."
Woods, speaking via phone from Grayling, recalled a trip he took with Lynch and legendary Red Wings sportscaster Bruce Martyn to the NHL's five other Original Six towns of Chicago, Boston, New York, Toronto and Montreal.
"Every city, everybody knew Budd," Woods said. "He was known all throughout the hockey world, known and respected."
Woods said he last saw Lynch at the Red Wings' final home game of the NHL Playoffs this year against the Nashville Predators.
"I walked by Budd every night to go to work," Woods said. "He was always there early, always doing his work, doing his preparation."
Acclaimed Career at Microphone
Lynch, born Aug. 7, 1917, in Windsor, began his broadcasting career in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1936, but put his career on hold in 1939 when he volunteered to serve in the Canadian Army as a young Major of the Essex Scottish Regiment in World War II, according to the Red Wings. He lost his right arm and shoulder in battle shortly after the D-Day Invasion at Normandy and, no longer able to serve in the field, contributed to BBC throughout the remainder of the war.
Lynch then began broadcasting in Windsor in 1948 before coming to Detroit a year later.
Lynch's work broadcasting in radio and television earned him honors from the NHL Broadcasters Association with the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award at the Hockey Hall of Fame, and enshrinement at the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.
“Budd Lynch will forever be synonymous with the Detroit Red Wings,” Detroit Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland said in a statement.
Woods said he feels Lynch's hockey wisdom, having watched games from the late 1940s through 2012, can't be duplicated.
"He was such a fine individual and such a classic example of perseverance and dedication," Woods said. "You can't replace a person like that."