06 November 2007
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom”Kind of fitting that Eric Lindros is expected to announce his retirement from the NHL, almost a day after it's reported Peter Forsberg may be done as well.
UPDATE:Another great Lindros recap, which sums up his career and the feelings of his career nicely, is written over at the NHL fanhouse, by occasional Jibblescribbits visitor, Greg Wyshanski.
I always hated Lindros, always. (I later found out that Bobby Clark was as much of a D-bag as Lindros, and more specifically Lindros' parents but when he was playing I didn't realize it.) If you could make an all-time lineup of Jibblescribbits most hated players it would look like this:
F- Darren McCarty
F- Eric Lindros
F- Brad May
D- Dion Phaenuf
D- Richard Matvichuck
G- Dominik Hasek
What really bugged me about Lindros was how it was reported that his parents called up the Flyers and told them what lines he should be playing on, and he wouldn't play in Quebec because he had to learn French. Nothing says spoiled rich kid who gets his way all the time quite like those two events, and he'll always be my personal reference point as the start of the Me-first era of sports. Sure other players across other sports symbolize this better, but I was in my formative hockey years when this happened, starting to follow the sport closely and learn the players. at 13-16 everything is good and Evil. Forsberg and Sakic were good, Lindros became evil.
There's no doubt that the fate of Eric Lindros, Peter Forsberg and the Colorado Avalanche are forever entwined. As most of you know, in 1992 The Quebec Nordiques traded Lindros to the Les Avs for Steve Duschesne, Mike Ricci, Chris Simon, Ron Hextall, and of course Peter Forsberg, oh and a first round pick (Thibault), oh and cash, oh AND future considerations (whatever the hell those were). The worst part about this trade for Lindros is that the players involved and the amount of players created expectations that could never be fulfilled. It didn't help that Lindros was cocky and brash and bought into his own hype.
Lindros seemed to be living up to the hype , and in 1995 was awarded the Hart trophy as league MVP, and the Lester B. Pearson award as players MVP. He even lead the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1997. The young power forward had the sky as the limit, but that Stanley Cup appearance would be the apex of his career.
Lindros suffered a series of concussions and feuded with Flyers GM, and local legend, Bobby Clark. Lindors parents allegedly dictated what linemates Lindros should play with. Clark invited media members to watch as the equipment manager took the "C" off of Lindros' sweater. Between the feud and the concussions Lindros' career plummeted.
Not helping Lindros' image was that Forsberg went on to have a hall-of-fame career with 2 Cups, a legendary '94 olympics and losing his spleen in the '01 Western Conference Finals game 7. He also had a Hart trophy, and an Art Toss and Calder awards. Every time Forsberg closed in on greatness the expectations of Eric Lindros' grew.
The monumental expectations grew even more when the three teams most tied to the Flyers and Lindros failures, the Devils (the Flyers arch-rival) Avalanche, (team that traded him for a king's ransom in return) and Red Wings (team that swept him out of the finals) were the teams of the decade. Adding insult to injury was that the others in the trade went on to success, or at least had value. Ricci and Simon both contributed to the Avs '96 Cup run. And Thibault was sent in a package deal that sent some schmoe named Roy to Colorado. Looking back, one player could never live up to this standard.
Probably unfair of me to think of him that way, but it is what it is. The weight of the trade, and the weight of expectation that he placed upon himself, and his parents placed on him, made anything short of multiple Stanley cups a disappointment, and he came short of those expectations. Multiple concussions contributed to the downfall of Eric Lindros.
“The greatest humiliation in life, is to work hard on something from which you expect great appreciation, and then fail to get it”
-Edgar Watson Howe
It took experience and hard knocks in the NHL, press and life for Eric Lindros to learn humility. His youthful arrogance and attitude (coupled with his parents meddling), the success of his rivals, public feuding with a local legend and the success of others in that Epic Trade created expectations that was nearly impossible to live up to. A Stanley Cup Finals appearance, Hart Trophy and the center of the greatest nicknamed line of all time ("The Legion of Doom") wasn't enough to dispel the disappointment created by being a part of that trade.
In fact it hasn't been until recently, when a humbled, dejected Lindros nearly had to beg to play on the 4th line for an above-average Dallas Stars team that he became a mildly sympathetic figure. Now he is retiring to focus on the players union. This is shocking to me that the ultimate Me-first player (again in my eyes) is calling it a career to help out fellow players. Now all his efforts going to the fractured and beaten players union could do more for him than his playing career ever did.
The most appropriate way top to sum up Eric Lindros' career is that he won the Philadelphia Flyers' team MVP 4 times, the name of that award... The Bobby Clark trophy. Yes THAT Bobby Clark, Lindros' longtime nemesis.
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