Eric Lindros Changed Philadelphia Hockey Forever

Looking Back: Eric Lindros

I debated for a long time about how to write this piece. As a journalist you never want to include yourself in the article. And ideally, you’d like it to be free of bias (looking at you, Breitbart). After mulling it over, I decided the only fair way to produce this piece was to write it with the same joyful enthusiasm I felt 18 years ago. As a fan of hockey. As a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers. And, as a fan of Eric Lindros.

The late 90s were a good time to be a Flyers fan. The team had one of the most feared offensive lines in hockey history known as the “Legion of Doom”. One anchored by number 88, Eric Lindros. The team had just moved into a brand new state-of-the-art arena in 1996, and made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1997. That time period also happened to be the beginning of my fandom into the Philadelphia Flyers.

Growing up throughout elementary school, I remember playing floor hockey in gym class. We’d always know ahead of time so I would make sure to wear my flyers gear—typically a white t-Shirt with “Philadelphia Flyers” written on the front. And of course, my favorite Flyer jersey over top. From what I recall, it wasn’t a legitimate Eric Lindros jersey. But it was good enough for me to try to emulate everything he did on the ice. And moreover, that it transitioned to the wooden floors of the gymnasium which we were playing.

Street hockey was a pretty common occurrence in our neighborhood—at least 3-4 times a week. Sometimes every day. I’d tend to rotate between goalie or forward depending on the size of the game and who was playing. It was the Jersey Shore so it was made up predominantly of Devils fans. But, I always made sure to make it known I was a Flyers fan. Being 2-3 years older than the majority of the kids on the block I was always usually a bit bigger and faster than them. Just like Lindros.

He had such a rare combination of size, speed, skill and toughness. At the age of just 21, Lindros put up an eye-popping 29 goals and 41 assists for a total of 70 points in in the lockout-shortened season of just 46 games. He also added 60 penalty minutes. Translate that across a full 82-game season and Lindros was on pace for 52 goals and 73 assists for a total of 124 points and 107 penalty minutes. What’s even more impressive is that for all of the offense he supplied, he never wavered on the defensive side of the puck. During his eight-year career in Philadelphia, he was a +188 and averaged 1.35 points per game.

Tom Dougherty of CSNPhilly remembers Lindros for how he changed the franchise and said, “Lindros created excitement for the sport that helped the organization build what is now known as the Wells Fargo Center, and sparked a culture of winning that I grew up with. I may not fully remember the glory days of Lindros, or the Legion of Doom, but he changed the sport in Philadelphia to a way that demanded excellence and always fought for a Cup. Had it not been for Eric Lindros, I would have never become a hockey fan. He had that big of an impact on the city. And that’s how we should remember him.”

Through all the off ice distractions between his parents, the Flyers front office, his injury issues, or the massive trade it took to get him to Philly, the majority of folks in Philadelphia would agree it was worth it. Lindros was more then just a superstar. He completely transcended the organization back to winning expectations. He was a huge reason the team built a new arena. And most importantly, he is responsible for an entire generation of Philadelphia Flyers fans.

So thank you, Eric, and congratulations on finally being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Flyers fans respect you, remember you, and are forever grateful for what you’ve meant to the franchise.

  • TractorEngineer

    Probably the most diplomatic assessment I’ve ever read of what Lindros did for the Flyers franchise. It’s been nearly 20 years, I guess we can forget about all the ways that Lindros was a cancer to the team and just remember the VERY FEW bright spots. Today is a day to be happy, I guess.

    • dc

      you are so right.
      lindros and flyers management sent the flyers back 20 years.
      in a year when the league’s talent was watered down due to expansion the flyers gave up very talented players for one player.
      if the flyers would have kept the talent they had they could have easily won 3-4 stanley cups.
      the lindros deal taught me one thing though.
      the flyers owner had no idea what he was doing.

      • TractorEngineer

        I heard that. When I say this kind of thing, I always get some Flyers fanboi screaming at me, “So you’re going to trash-talk a guy that won the Hart and Bobby Clark Trophies in the same year, yeah right!!” Ask Steve Yzerman over a beer if he’d rather have the Con Smythe Trophy for 1998 or The Stanley Cup. We all know what that answer would be.

        Being 20 years ago, people forget just how dismal of a performance Lindros showed in his ONE trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in which the Flyers were swept easily in 4 games. Lindros’ ONE goal in the whole series happened in the last 14 seconds of game 4, it’s the definition of too little too late. Let’s take a look at Eric’s stats for that series: 1 goal and 2 assists for 3 points. Ouch!! The only stat that broke double digits was penalty minutes (17). Detroit outscored the Flyers 16-6 in that series. The Flyers coach Bobby Clarke publicly noted Eric Lindros’ utter lack of leadership as team captain and publicly questioned his toughness and commitment to the team. For Lindros, the term “finals choke-artist” was thrown around on talk radio. Bobby Clarke’s public comments was the start of an ugly public feud that went on until Lindros was traded in 2001 after sitting out the 2000-2001 season.

        After Mario Lemieux’s retirement in April 1997, ESPN was ridiculously hyping Eric Lindros, saying things like, “Mario is passing the torch on the Lindros.” Yeah, we all know how that turned out!

        Besides padding his personal stats, what did Lindros ever do for the Flyers? I’m baffled. Lindros’ induction into the Hall of Fame is a commentary on his potential as a player, not his achievements. He had a GREAT natural talent but post-1997, he was always chronically injured because he never learned to play with his head up, he was absolutely incapable of having a good relationship with his front office, and allowed his meddling parents to play a big part in poisoning that relationship. Let’s face it, after sitting out the 2000-2001 season and getting picked up by the Rangers in Aug. 2001, all Eric did was show up get a paycheck. After his horrid blowout in the 1997 Finals, he only went to the post-season twice and never the Finals again. In the 1999 post-season, he scored 1 goal and 0 assists. With the 2006 Dallas Stars, he got 0 goals and 0 assists in the post-season. After the Flyers stripped Lindros of being team captain, he never got it back with any team. Will somebody please tell me a single thing that he did from 1998 to his retirement in 2007 that was the least bit noteworthy? Buhler, Buhler……? The only thing he succeeded at in that era was being a pain is his front-office’s butt.

        • dc

          word

[FBW]
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