Today, Eric Lindros is expected to announce his retirement from the NHL. Bob Clarke, former Flyers GM and current senior VP, recently weighed in on Lindros and his potential candidacy for the Hockey Hall of Fame:
“He won MVP, he was an All-Star, he went to the Stanley Cup final. If you eliminate the crap that circled him, he is easily a Hall of Fame hockey player,” said Clarke… “Had his parents left him alone I don’t know what this kid could have done because he could really play.”
Given the highly contentious history between Clarke and Lindros, many were surprised by Clarke’s overwhelmingly positive remarks. Others weren’t so sanguine:
“Statistics are great but he wasn’t a good teammate, he wasn’t a good captain, he did not promote the game of hockey the way it should be promoted,” said [Mike] Milbury.
Mad Mike isn’t exactly what I would call the voice of reason, but even Flyers fans wouldn’t argue with his sentiments. The700Level commented on Lindros’ retirement with similar feelings:
Within a month the entire town was wearing the orange “88” jersey. All we had to do now was sit back and wait patiently for Lord Eric to lead the Flyers to multiple Stanley Cups and…Hart trophies. Now here we are 16 years later. No Stanley Cup. One Hart trophy. And the most concussed human being/biggest disappointment this town has ever seen is retiring. And I’ll be honest, I don’t even know what team he was playing for.
This isn’t to say that Lindros didn’t accomplish a lot during his tenure; he won numerous awards and two Olympic medals and played in six All-Star games. He racked up numbers that many players would envy, including his 115 points in the ’95-’96 season with the Flyers. But it was all downhill from there. Thanks to the Concussion Fairy, who visited frequently (and who also effectively ended brother Brett’s career), the world would never truly know the extent of Lindros’ talents. Some may call it karma, but others could see it as a warning sign of the old adage “don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” No player, no matter how remarkable, is going to singlehandedly transform a so-so team into a powerhouse. You never know what’s in the cards. After all, I doubt Lindros would have ever imagined when he entered the NHL that he’d be retiring now, fifteen years and eight concussions later.