Open Mic: Greatest Disappointment - Eric Lindros

Ron GloverSenior Analyst IJune 16, 2008

If there ever was a "Next One" Eric Lindros was it. ESPN The Magazine said so, and the entire hockey world thought so.

So it came as no surprise when in August of 1992 the Philadelphia Flyers, non-existent in the playoffs the previous three seasons, mortgaged their immediate future (six players including Peter Forsberg) in a trade with the then-Quebec Nordiques for Lindros, the player whom many considered the player to lead the NHL into the 21st century.

At 6'4" 240 lbs. Lindros was a locomotive on skates, but possessed the skills of a smaller, faster center. Lindros had dominated the junior hockey leagues and looked to make his mark on the pros. Where "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky relied on his skills, Lindros used his physical presence to take over a hockey game.

Unlike many of the great athletes that have come through Philadelphia, Lindros was a star player that always played with a good supporting cast. His former teammates themselves could be considered an All-Star team: Ron Hextall, John LeClair, Eric Desjardins, Mikael Reneberg, Paul Coffey, Keith Jones, John Vanbriesbrouck, Rod Brind'amour and Keith Primeau.

The 1995 Hart Trophy winner promised the fans of Philadelphia in an emotional acceptance speech that the team was going to get better...and they did. Two seasons later the Flyers would go on to play for the Stanley Cup against the Detroit Red Wings. The Flyers were thoroughly outplayed by the Red Wings, who were too fast for the physical Flyers.

In 1998 things began to fall apart between Lindros and the Flyers; it began when team GM Bob Clarke questioned the toughness of Lindros who landed on the injured list several times during the season from nagging injuries or concussions, from here the feud would only worsen.

During an April 1st, 1999 game against the Nashville Predators, Lindros suffered what was diagnosed as a rib injury. Later that night, the teammate he was sharing a hotel room with, Keith Jones, discovered Lindros lying in a tub, pale and cold. In a call to the Flyers, the trainer was told to put Lindros on a plane that was returning to Philadelphia with injured teammate Mark Reechi.

But Jones insisted that Lindros be taken to a nearby hospital and it was discovered Lindros had a collapsed lung caused by internal bleeding of his chest wall. It was estimated he'd bled out more than half his body's total blood volume.

Lindros's father wrote the Flyers a letter in which he stated that if the trainer had followed team orders, Eric would be dead (a statement supported by the doctors who treated him in Nashville). 

The following season in Philadelphia would be "Big E's" last. He would end the season on the injured list with a concussion but return in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference finals against the hated New Jersey Devils.

The Flyers had a 3-1 series lead only to watch it slip away. Lindros was knocked silly on a hit by Devil Scott Stevens.  The image of Lindros crashing to the ice was symbolic of the series and ultimately, his career.

The following season Lindros was released and had stints with the New York Rangers, Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs.