Eric Lindros back in Philadelphia

By Paul Williams
October 11, 2001

The New York Rangers, who have long been division rivals of the Philadelphia Flyers, have added to the Philly fans’ hatred of New York by trading for Eric Lindros on Aug. 20.

The Flyers traded Lindros for three players from the Rangers, along with a draft pick from the Rangers’ minor league system. Lindros played extremely well early on in his career with the Flyers. In 1994 he became the youngest captain in the team’s history at 21 years old, and he won the National Hockey Leagues most valuable player at 22, the youngest player since Wayne Gretzky.

However, Lindros and Flyers’ general Manager Bob Clarke started to have a falling out in 1996. In the summer of 1996 Lindros, and the flyers were locked in a contract dispute. They settled but Eric pulls his groin muscle and misses the first 23 games. According to the sporting news, “In 1999, after Lindros suffered a collapsed lung in Nashville, Clarke allegedly pressured Lindros to play against the Maple Leafs. Lindros said that he could have died from the pressure if he went on the plane to Philadelphia, and then he asked for trainer John Worley to be replaced.” In 2000, Lindros suffered two concussions for a total of four in his career to that point. Lindros later criticizes Worley again for misdiagnosing one of his concussions. According to the sporting news, ” On March 27, 2000, after meeting with his players, several of whom criticize Lindros for his comments, Clarke strips Lindros of his captaincy.” Lindros would make a surprise appearance in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, where he scored, but the flyers lost 2-1. The next game would be Lindros’s last with the Flyers where he would suffer his sixth concussion.

Next, Lindros demanded to be traded, not to just any team, but the Toronto Maple Leafs. A deal was made with Toronto, but the Flyers pulled out of the deal saying one of the players they would be getting was injured. After realizing that a deal with Toronto would not be possible, Lindros added teams to his list. Clarke stated, “He didn’t care if Lindros ever played again,” according to Lindros was finally traded to the New York Rangers Aug. 20, 2001.

The story should seem familiar to Flyer’s fans. The reason that Eric Lindros came to Philadelphia was that he refused to play for the Quebec Nordiques the team that drafted him in 1991. Two teams actually had claims to the rights of Lindros. Ironically, those two teams were the Rangers and Flyers who both worked out deals with Quebec. An arbitrator settled the case and sided with Philadelphia. According to the sporting news, “On July 13, 1992 Lindros was acquired from Quebec in exchange for six players, two draft picks, and $15 million. In that deal the Flyers gave the then Nordiques who moved to Colorado, two players- Mike Ricci and Peter Forsberg. They helped the Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley cup in Colorado’s first year.

When Lindros played in his first game with the Flyers, in Quebec, the fans dressed up with diapers on and pacifiers in their mouths. They had the word “Eric is a baby scrawled on their signs,” according to The Philadelphia fans are unusually hostile when the New York Rangers come into town, and they will be even more so on Nov. 14. That’s when Lindros is expected to play in Philadelphia with the Rangers jersey on.

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Paul Williams

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