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Friday, June 29, 2012

Eric Lindros: HHOFer or Oversized Brat?

In the mid 1990s, no player inspired awe and fear, as Philadelphia Flyer's Eric Lindros.  His brute force and puck skills helped to make him one of the most dominating players the game has ever seen.  But a star that shines that bright, tends not to shine very long.  Concussions began to derail a great career and off the ice feuds tarnished his legacy.  

1990's Hottest Card

Lindros refused to put on the jersey.
  Even before playing the junior hockey, Lindros was making headlines.  Dubbed as "The Next One", Lindros was drafted 1st overall in the OHL draft by Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.  Lindros refused to join the team, and was eventually traded to the Oshawa Generals, where he won a Memorial Cup.  It was deja vu all over again as Lindros was drafted 1st overall by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1991 NHL entry draft, and refused to report.  A lot of the blame was placed on Lindros's agent, and father, Carl Lindros, for trying to control where Eric played, via the draft and trade.  Lindros would split the 1991-92 season between the OHL Oshawa Generals and Team Canada, representing Canada, as an amateur, in the Olympics and playing with and against the NHL's best in the Canada Cup.  As the season progressed, Lindros refused to reconsider playing for the Nordiques and the Nordiques began taking offers for Lindros.  The Nordiques eventually traded Lindros, to the two different teams.

Philadelphia FlyersPeter Forsberg, Steve Duchesne, Kerry Huffman, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Philadelphia's 1st round choice (Jocelyn Thibault) in 1993 Entry Draft, $15,000,000 and future considerations (Chris Simon and Philadelphia's 1st round choice (Nolan Baumgartner) in 1994 Entry Draft,
New York Rangers
John Vanbiesbrouck, Tony Amonte, Doug Weight, Alex Kovalev, $12 million and the New York Rangers 1st round picks in 1993 (Niklas Sundstrom), 1994 (Dan Cloutier) and 1995 (J.S. Giguere).

  On June 30, 1992, an arbitrator ruled in favor of the Philadelphia Flyers and Lindros was off to the city of Brotherly Love.  It has to mentioned that the players picked with the Rangers draft picks would have likely been different if they had actually been traded to the Rangers.  The New York Rangers would win a Stanley Cup in 1994.  The Lindros fiasco is sometimes cited as the beginning of the end for the Nordiques playing in Quebec. The Nordiques would become the Colorado Avalanche in 1995 and would be crowned Stanley Cup champions by seasons end.

The 6'4", 240lbs, Lindros lived up to the hype after entering the league.  Lindros quickly became one of the game's top players. He won the Hart Trophy in his 3rd season and led the NHL play-offs in scoring in 1997.  In his first 6 years of his career, Lindros lead all players, not named Mario Lemieux, in points per game.  He combined with Mikeal Renberg and John Leclair to form the feared Legion of Doom line.  

Glory Days

During those first six seasons, Lindros never played more than 73 games.  His 46 games out of 48 in the 1994-95 lockout season was the only season with the Flyers where Lindros played in more than 90% of the Flyers games.  On March 7th, 1998, Lindros would suffer his first diagnosed concussion.  Over his 8 year career with the Flyers, Lindros missed almost one out of every four games due to various injuries.  Concussions plagued Lindros throughout his career and in 2000, after suffering another concussion, Lindros publicly criticized the Philadelphia Flyers and the team's medical staff, over the handling of his injuries.  Lindros was stripped of his team captaincy the feud between Lindros and Flyers GM Bobby Clarke was waged through the media.  After missing the last 14 regular season games and first 16 games of the play-offs, Lindros returned in the Stanley Cup semi-final with the Flyer leading 3 games to 2 over the New Jersey Devils.  In game six, Lindros scored the Flyer's lone goal in a 2-1 loss.  In game seven, Lindros suffered another concussion on the infamous Scott Stevens hit.

Lindros would sit out the 2000-01 season while recovering from concussion symptoms and continued feuding with Flyer management.  Lindros would finish his Flyer's career without winning a Stanley Cup.  In August of 2001, the New York Rangers finally completed an official trade that would make Eric Lindros a Ranger.  Lindros had one good season left in him as he led the Rangers in points in 2001-02.  In 2002-03, Lindros set a career high by playing in 81 games, but his productivity had suffered. and his 2003-04 season ended after suffering a concussion.  After the lock-out Lindros spent two uninspiring and injury plagued seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Dallas Stars.  On Novemeber 8th, 2007, officially announced his retirement.  On the same day, Lindros donated $5,000,000 to the London Health Sciences Centre.  A promising career left unfulfilled and marred by off-ice feuds and concussions.  

Forgettable stops in New York, Toronto and Dallas.
  Lindros has been eligible for the HHOF since 2010.  2012 is the third time he has been passed over.  In 2013, Chris Chelios and Scott Niedermayer lead the first year class while returnees Brendan Shanahan, Jeremy Roenick and Curtis Joseph will also compete for the the next four passes into the HHOF.  With Cam Neely, and now Pavel Bure, making the HHOF, it firmly opens the door for players, like Eric Lindros, who had legendary careers derailed and shortened by injuries.  But will Lindros off-ice problems keep him out?  Was his eight season with the Flyers strong enough to get him in?
  Should Eric Lindros be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame?


  1. I gotta say no HOF for Linfros. If he had stayed healthy it would be a different story.

  2. He is one of those fence guys for me. He put up really good numbers when he was healthy, he just wasn't healthy often enough.

    Personally, I wouldn't induct him, but I can see the HHOF letting him in.

  3. Well, as we all know now, The Big E. finally entered the HOF!