Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lindros could return to Philly for Winter Classic

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

This will no doubt be one of those "sit down before your read" stories for Flyers fans of a certain age...

No marquee player in Flyers franchise history is the subject of more intense scrutiny or polarized opinions than Eric Lindros.

Last seen in Orange and Black in May of 2000, the now 38-year-old — 19 years removed from his rookie campaign – has been estranged from the organization since his 2000-01 holdout which eventually led to then-GM Bob Clarke shipping him to the New York Rangers for three players.

The native of Oshawa, Ontario was last heard from in September of 2008, in a brief videotaped message to the fans during the club’s final appearance in the Spectrum.

Many have wondered if The Next One could ever be welcomed back to the fold.

On Tuesday, an interview surfaced from The Hockey Writers, one which just so happens to be conducted with Philly’s Prodigal Son of the 1990s. In the body of the piece comes this little exchange, which will set the hearts of all Lindros fans aflutter with possibilities:

Q: There have been some rumors going around in Philly that you’ve been invited to play in the Winter Classic Alumni game. Is there any truth to that?

Eric Lindros: I talked with [Flyers GM] Paul Holmgren about a month or five weeks back and we chatted about it. That’d be great if I could see Mikael Renberg again, and Johnny LeClair. I haven’t seen Johnny in a couple of years. That would be a lot of fun. Also possibly we could set up something along the lines where we could do something for CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia), maybe have a lunch or do something along those lines. We could bring in hockey fans and chat a little bit about what we’re up to and sign a bunch of stuff.

Q: So have you made a decision to definitely come down for that or is it still up in the air at this point?

Eric Lindros: I haven’t talked to Paul since we initially spoke a couple of times but it sounds like a great time.

While it doesn’t really smack of a confirmation -- unlike the rush to act like it is by certain members of the professional online community -- it does leave the door open not only for Big 88 to return, but for the entire Legion of Doom to be reunited for the Alumni Game which will take place on New Year’s Eve.

This would be a HUGE step for the club to recognize a brief, but important renaissance which took place between 1995 and Lindros’ controversial concussion in March of 2000. It is well past time.

That era, defined by Lindros as much as the Flyers’ exciting, but ultimately futile, attempts to restore glory to the franchise, has gotten little publicity in the intervening years.

When the club chose to release its Top 10 games during its 40th Anniversary celebrations, all of the Lindros Era was passed over. In the introductory video to that 2006-07 season, the 90′s consist of Mark Recchi’s single-season team-record 120th point in 1993, Rod Brind’Amour’s power-play goal in Game 2 of the ’97 Finals, Eric Desjardins’ OT score in Game 1 of the ’95 Eastern semis against the Rangers…and a brief flash of Lindros after scoring an unidentified goal.

It was not nearly enough to honor a brief but fantastic ride which did, in fact, include many great players and moments that had nothing to do with the hulking center who was constantly overshadowed by his meddlesome father/agent.

Whatever occurred in the past, this is excellent news. The Phanatic first got wind of the situation from sources at the home opener last Wednesday. It definitely set off our radar despite what could be termed as ridiculously hyperbolic build-up to the actual secret.

But frankly, it’s not a stretch to think that something of that magnitude could include Lindros, as he’s the one piece to this team’s historic puzzle that has been conspicuously absent.

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