Limo driver hard put to stay on road..

Hockey Hall of Famer Ted Lindsay who earned the nickname Terrible Ted for his hard charging play said the driver in the1997 limo crash that disabled Red Wings star Vladimir Konstantinov deserves a bullet.

Testifying in a civil suit in U.S. District Court in Detroit on Monday, Lindsay said driver Richard Gnida couldn’t even keep the car on the roadway.

“People like that should be shot,” said Lindsay, 82, who played for the Wings from 1944 to 1957 and again in the 1964-65 season. During the 1940s and 1950s, Lindsay was a member of the legendary Production Line with Gordie Howe and Sid Abel.

The limo crashed into a tree on Woodward in Birmingham when Gnida fell asleep while returning from a golf outing celebrating the Wings’ 1997 Stanley Cup victory. The crash occured within days of winning the championship the first for the Wings since 1955.

A blood test showed Gnida had marijuana in his system, though it could not be determined when he used the drug.

He pleaded guilty to driving on a suspended license and served seven months of a nine-month sentence. He later was arrested for a third drunken driving incident and sentenced to one year in jail.

Gnida walked away from the crash, but Konstantinov suffered severe brain and physical injuries when he was thrown into the barrier separating the limo’s passenger and driver’s compartments. Team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov was left paralyzed.

Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov, who were not wearing seat belts, filed the civil suit against Findlay Ford, the Ohio dealership that sold the limo to a metro Detroit company.

The suit alleges the passenger seat belts were inaccessible.

The dealership contends the modification of the Lincoln Town Car into a stretch limo was done by the now defunct National Coach with Ford authorization and that Findlay Ford is not responsible because it merely resold the vehicle.

Lindsay said that before the wreck Konstantinov was the best defenseman in the world — better than Boston great Bobby Orr — but seeing the toll of the massive brain injuries “kind of makes me sick.”

The Wings general manager in the mid-1970s, Lindsay testified that Konstantinov who was 30 at the time of the accident could have played into his 40s. Detroit easily could have won at least another two Stanley Cups and perhaps five if Konstantinov hadn’t been hurt in the crash, he said.

“He was best in the world. No doubt about it,” he said.

Lindsay said he became friends with Konstantinov when he worked out in the Wings’ training facilities. He said that Konstantinov still makes appearances at annual Ted Lindsay Foundation golf outings that raise money for autism research.

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