There are many names that have become famous on the Philadelphia Flyers roster throughout their history since becoming an NHL expansion franchise team in 1967.
Bobby Clarke. Ron Hextall. Claude Giroux. While they have all made significant contributions, there is none more contested like Eric Lindros. There is no doubt that he had a successful career in the NHL and was even famous before his entry in to the 1991 NHL Draft. His career might have been tumultuous, yet this week he received one of the greatest accomplishments of any hockey player.
Finally. Congrats to one of the most dominant Flyers of all time, the great Eric Lindros. https://t.co/8adXSGBbTl
— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) June 27, 2016
There was no doubt that this honor was way overdue. He had been trying to get on the ballot for some time and it was welcome news to hear that he would finally get the recognition that he deserves. However, to understand why Lindros has struggled to make the ballot, there needs to be an understanding of his history in the NHL.
The Beginning of a Legend
Lindros was already a well-known hockey player in Canada before he entered the 1991 NHL Draft. He was a famous junior-hockey player and with good reason. At 6 feet 4 inches and 225 pounds, Lindros was a formidable player who had both the size and strength that would made him a household name like Wayne Gretzky. When he was just 15-years old, he was racking up 67 points in 37 games as a member of St. Mark’s Junior B team. Lindros was a physical player, racking up over 100 penalty minutes all before the age of 18. He was eligible for the junior draft and was picked by the same team that drafted Gretzky, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Unlike Gretzky, Lindros didn’t show up and the Greyhounds eventually sent him to the Oshawa Generals. Before he joined them, Lindros made two World Junior Championship appearances.
Once he joined up with the Generals, Lindros instantly became a hit. He averaged two points a game and in 1990, Lindros led them to the Memorial Cup. He would be recognized with an unmatched talent and it led him to being picked in the 1991 NHL Draft.
Lindros was easily the the No.1 overall pick and was chosen by the Quebec Nordiques to play for them. Once again, Lindros didn’t want to play for them but this time, the Nordiques ignored him. He never reported to them and didn’t play a game with them.
He was invited to play for Team Canada in the 1991 Canada Cup and ended up being one of the best players in the tournament. Lindros again played in the World Junior Championship and stayed on the Canadian national team, winning a silver medal in the Albertville Olympics in 1992. The Nordiques didn’t want any of the drama of Lindros and concocted a trade in the 1992 NHL Draft, first to the Philadelphia Flyers and then to the New York Rangers. In the end, his rights were given to the Flyers in exchange for six players (Peter Forsberg, Ron Hextall, Kerry Huffman, Chris Simon and Mike Ricci). It was the beginning of his time in the City of Brotherly Love.
Starting off in Philadelphia
It wouldn’t be an easy start for Lindros in black and orange. He would not make much, despite his large contract and when the Flyers went to the Quebec, he was received with large amounts of hatred. Yet, that didn’t stop him from having 41 goals in his first season and scoring his first goal during a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 6, 1992. (See goal at 8:49)
He would continue to be a powerhouse offensive player for the team. In the shortened 1994-95 season, Lindros tied Jaromir Jagr for the scoring lead. He might have lost out on the Art Ross Trophy for that season but he ended up winning the Hart Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Award.
Lindros earned the title as team captain in the 1995-96 season and became part of the “Legion of Doom,” along with John LeClair and Mikael Renberg. He scored 115 points during that season and the following season, despite a knee injury, he lead the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final.
Primetime Lindros, Leaving Philadelphia and Retirement
One of the biggest crowning achievements from Lindros was being named team captain for Team Canada in the 1998 Nagano Olympics. He had played on the international state multiple times as part of Team Canada and when he played in the World Junior Championships. Now, he was the star player representing his home country in the Olympics. However, he stardom would fail to help Canada medal in the games.
There were other factors starting to turn Lindros’ career. His numerous injuries wracked his body and one of the worst, a collapsed lunge in 1999, forced him to miss playoff games for the Flyers as the team fell to the Toronto Maples Leafs. He had four concussion during the 1999-2000 season and it seemed as if this one great center was doomed to retirement. He requested a trade to leave Philadelphia and general manager Bobby Clarke wouldn’t grant his trade request to go to Toronto. Instead, Lindros headed to the New York Rangers and later the Toronto Maple Leafs and Dallas Stars, where he continued to suffer injuries and setback until his retirement in November 2007.
Getting the Call
Lindros finished his NHL career with 372 goals and 493 assists for 865 points. He played in more than 750 NHL games and became one of the hardest hitting and most aggressive players on the Flyers roster. Lindros, in the later part of his career, had a hard time working with upper management but his time in Philadelphia remained a positive one. There was a time after his retirement that many wondered when the member of the “Legion of Doom” would have his time in the spotlight and fame that was the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Six times Eric Lindros tried to make the ballot. It happened that seven was to be his lucky number.
On Monday, June 27, 2016, Lindros received the call that his time had come. He was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame after 13 seasons in the NHL. He had played with the intensity of an 18-year old well into the later years of his career. Lindros was never shy to take on the institution known as hockey and his induction might come as a shock and anger some fans and personnel. Yet, after a stellar career, it was well deserved and the debate on his induction was finally closed.