This week is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the death of Flyers' rising superstar goalie, Pelle Lindbergh, who suddenly died at the age of twenty six.
Lindbergh was born on May 24, 1959 in the Swedish city, Stockholm. Growing up, he gained a reputation playing for a local team. In 1979, he was drafted 35th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers.
Approximately seven months after the Flyers acquired the young Swedish goalie, the 1980 Olympics were beginning in Lake Placid. Pelle was named to Sweden's national ice hockey team for the Olympics. Sweden placed third, earning a bronze medal with Lindbergh between the pipes.
Jumping ahead four years, Lindbergh was starting his best season with the Flyers. In the 1984-85 season, he was named to the All-Star team and finished with 40 wins, which lead the league. He became the first European born goalie to win the Vezina Trophy. Pelle was also the first goaltender to bring a water bottle to the ice. He did this to fight dehydration, which he suffered from.
Eight games into the next season, tragedy struck. Lindbergh was intoxicated and drove his customized Porsche 930 Turbo into a wall in Somerdale, NJ. The All-Star was fatally injured and three others who were in the car with him were injured as well. The next day, after his father flew in from Sweden and said his goodbye to his son, the papers were signed and Pelle was taken off of life support.
That season, Lindbergh was voted to the All-Star team. It was the first time any athlete was voted posthumously. The Flyers held a pregame memorial service on November 14, 1986. Although Lindbergh's number 31 was never retired, it hasn't been worn by a Flyer since.
All his life Lindbergh dreamed of playing not only in the NHL, but for the Flyers specifically. Pelle was exuberant when he found out he was drafted by Philadelphia. He was a favorite in the crowd and the locker room and had a natural gift for stopping shots. With the Flyers, he was bound to bring great things, set many records, and win multiple Cups. That future that he was bound for was cut short.
November 11th is the official anniversary of his death. Rest in peace, Pelle. You are still, and always will be remembered.
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