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.