Dom Lunardo | May 10th, 2020
Draft: 1st overall, 1991, Quebec Nordiques
NHL Clubs: Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dallas Stars
NHL All-Star Game Appearances: 7
Hall-of-Fame Inductee: 2016
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Every once in a while, a generational talent blesses hockey fans from far and wide. Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby, and most recently Connor McDavid can be classified as “generational players”. In 1991, the NHL received one more. His name was Eric Lindros. Blessed with size, speed, power, and skill, the “E Train” was a force to be reckoned with. Let’s take a closer look at the playing career of Eric Lindros and further examine one of the most innovative talents in NHL history.
A General Amongst Generals
Although originally drafted by the Sault. St Marie Greyhounds, Lindros did not really see a fit for himself there. Within a few months, he was traded to the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). It was in Oshawa, following in the footsteps of Orr and Gretzky, that a star was born. In just three seasons as a “Gen”, Lindros easily became one of the best players in Canadian Junior Hockey. In 1990-91, he scored 71 goals and 149 points in just 49 games. Yes, you may want to read those statistics again. Lindros also scored 36 points in 17 playoffs games. By the spring, Lindros and the Generals were competing for one of junior hockey’s biggest prizes: the Memorial Cup. A picture-perfect season was capped off with the Generals defeating the Kitchener Rangers in double-overtime. That game, played in front of over 17,000 fans won Lindros and the Generals, junior hockey’s most prestigious trophy. Word got around that the hockey world was looking at its next budding superstar. That summer, the NHL came calling, and the next chapter in Lindros’ life would soon be written.
Philadelphia and the “Legon of Doom”
Lindros hit the ground running during his first season in Philadelphia. The unique combination of speed, strength, and skill were signature trademarks of his game. As a rookie, Lindros tallied 41 goals, 34 assists, and 75 points in just 61 games. It didn’t take long for the Flyers faithful to acknowledge the supreme talent in the “E Train”. Prior to the 1994 campaign, Lindros was proudly given the “C” as team captain. He was also paired with wingers John LeClair and Mikael Renberg to form the “Legion of Doom” line in Philly. Known for their physicality, the Legion of Doom became autonomous amongst Flyers fans. By season’s end, the dynamic trio of Leclair, Renberg, and Lindros was in full force. In addition, they were considered one of the most lethal (and feared) lines in the NHL. By 1995, Lindros’ dominant play led the Flyers to their first postseason berth in six seasons. Lindros also won the Hart Memorial Trophy, as the most valuable player to his team. His ability to make plays night after night marveled fans and teammates alike. Opposing teams’ defense cores simply had no answer for number 88. In the spring of 1997, the Flyers found themselves in the Stanley Cup Final. Their opponent? Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, and the mighty Detroit Red Wings. Although the Flyers were swept 4-0, Lindros’s played an integral role in getting his team to the Finals.
On the International stage, Lindros appeared for Team Canada on numerous occasions. Hockey Canada saw the same dominant attributes right from the get-go. Various management groups also knew he could be an asset in any game and against any opponent. At the junior level, Lindros donned the red and white at the 1990, 1991, and 1992 IIHF World Juniors. Lindros and the Canadians were victorious and won Gold Medals at the 91’ and 92’ tournaments. The “Big E” also suited up for Canada at the 1991 Canada Cup. A superstar talent like Lindros was simply too strong to overlook. Perhaps the pinnacle of his international career for Canada came during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Held in salt Lake City, Utah, Lindros and the Canadiens ended a 50-year drought by winning the Olympic Gold. The pressure-packed Gold Medal game saw Canada go head-to-head with the host Americans. After a 5-2 victory, Lindros’ international career had reached its peak. When you represent your country, there really is nothing more special and sentimental than Olympic Gold.
“The Big E”
As a player, there wasn’t much that Eric Lindros couldn’t do on the ice. The “E Train” could hit, skate, shoot, and score at will. His ability to impose himself on games was without question, one of his best attributes. For a big guy, Lindros was a graceful skater with long and powerful strides. With the Flyers, Lindros coined the phrase “Legion of Doom”, which became an instant hit in Philadephia. Lindros became known as the prototypical power-forward capable of turning any game on his head. Despite his individual accolades, Lindros unfortunately never won the Stanley Cup. However, for all he accomplished, and how he played the game, Lindros changed the NHL landscape. A hall-of-fame talent, Lindros will go down as one of the most unique players of all-time. Only time will tell if the hockey world will ever see another player like Eric Lindros.
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