The Philadelphia Flyers will be honoring one of the greatest players in franchise history on January 18th at the Wells Fargo Center before they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs. Eric Lindros’ number 88 will be raised to the rafters among five other franchise legends and will never be worn again.
Lindros was dynamic in Philadelphia. He was a powerhouse and consistently played the hard-nosed style of hockey that this city embraces along with tremendous skill. Things didn’t always go as planned for him, but on the whole, he had an electric career for the Flyers and it’s about time that we see his iconic number retired.
Lindros joined the guys on SportsNet to talk about his time with the Flyers and what it’s like to have his number retired in the city of Philadelphia.
Topics included Lindros’ experiences traveling the city of Philadelphia, how having good teams with great teammates helped dilute some of the other issues surrounding his time in Philly, his style of play and how changing it could have changed his career path and how his relationship with the organization changed after being invited to the 2012 Alumni Outdoor game at the Winter Classic.
“It was really special to get a call from Paul. You never really know, I’m sure you’ve talked with Paul a number of times, but his demeanor never really changes with good news or bad news,” said a laughing Lindros. “I was super excited to talk with him and I’m looking forward to January. It’s been a great year.. wow. Myself and my family we couldn’t be happier and feel more blessed and thankful for what’s gone on and having a chance to look back and be grateful and appreciative for just.. everything.”
Lindros’ battles with the front office are well documented and his relationship with the franchise was bitter and unwelcoming for years after he left town. For a franchise that prides itself on its commitment to its players in all walks of the game and life after it, this was a major black eye.
Thankfully, that all came to an end when the Flyers hosted the New York Rangers for the Outdoor Alumni Game and Winter Classic back in 2012.
“I was upset. I guess you could say this about a lot of things in life: what’re you gonna do? Are you going to spend the rest of your time being upset or are you going to start to talk things through and find some middle ground?” Lindros said about reconciling his relationship with the Flyers. “With Paul Holmgren being the communicator that he is and the person that he is, we got to speaking and things started to come together. He invited me down for that outdoor game and to walk out and be in front of the Flyer crowd again.. it was exciting. I really enjoyed that weekend.”
This is the one addition of a veteran beyond his prime that we approve of, Mr. Holmgren. Now that the relationship is healthy and enjoyable again, Lindros is able to look back upon his Flyers career with mostly positive thoughts. Mostly..
“[It was] mostly good times. We generally had a good team, and that overrides most of it.”
That overrides all of the personal relationships?
“I said most of it,” Lindros quipped. “Looking back, I had great times. I played my best hockey there. [I now have] a chance to go back and say hello and a bit of a goodbye at the same time to a number of years that were enjoyable.”
The two most important members of the front office during The Lindros Era were Ed Snider (duh) and then-GM Bobby Clarke. While both relationships were patched in 2012, it seems that Lindros never really got back to a good standing with Snider before he passed.
“I thought Ed wanted to win. I thought he was a good owner. I didn’t really deal with Ed a whole lot after ’99-00, but there were very few times I thought ‘wow, we didn’t go the extra mile’ on a certain player. We always had good teams,” Lindros said, seeming a bit uneasy with the subject. “It’s not touchy, maybe it’s just a weird timing thing.”
He has seen a lot of Clarke, though, and says they now have a mutual respect for each other that certainly wasn’t always there.
“We’re fine at all of these [events].. the best 100 of 100, he was at the Hall of Fame. You don’t go to certain events without crossing paths with people. I think we have a mutual respect for one another. We chat away.”
Of course, Lindros wasn’t going to part from this interview without mention of the support he still gets from Flyers fans.
“We certainly enjoyed playing at home and we had great support there. I think the Flyers will always have terrific support,” Lindros said. “They have loyal people in that area and they’ll always stick by their guys.”
Amen. Here’s to you, 88, and may your number in the rafters be a forever-reminder of the dominant force you were in orange and black. The full interview can be seen below.
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