As a young Flyers team prepares for another test of maturity this weekend with its Stadium Series matchup in Pittsburgh, Flyer Hall of Famer Eric Lindros will be involved in the festivities as part of a group of Flyers and Penguins alumni, on hand to celebrate the rich histories between the two franchises.
Having played in many great contests against the in-state rivals during his career, Lindros is no stranger to the hostilities: “Well that’s just it, it’s a great rivalry,” Lindros told Philadelphia Sports Nation Wednesday. “The teams are celebrating 50 years of wonderful times. There’s been some cups won in both cities, really good teams along the way. Every time that Philly and Pittsburgh get together, it’s one of those ones you circle on the calendar, you want to be there to see it.”
Coors Light reuses vinyl billboards for upcycled cooler bags, kegs for grills and empty cans for tailgating games, and to help spread the initiative of protecting the environment, Coors is letting fans join sustainability mission with Lindros and other Penguins and Flyers alumni. They will be at the Coors Light Beer Garden on February 25 from 4-7 p.m. ET to help fans take their best shot at the Coors Light Slap Shot. “It’s going to be a great weekend,” Lindros said.
Though he lives in Toronto, Lindros still manages to keep tabs on the Flyers when he can, having watched them live and on television several times this season. “They’ve got great players, I mean they’ve got three or four really good players. 93, Giroux is great, 17-Simmonds, Schenn, I mean there’s some real good players there,” Lindros said. “So hopefully you’ve got four or five and try and build on that and go from there. Certainly it’s a pivotal time, and points are hard to come by, and certainly going up against the defending group is never an easy task.”
Lindros himself had many shining moments when facing the Penguins, going head to head with all-time great Mario Lemieux:”They always had really good teams. You look back at the roster they had, with Mario and Jagr, and Ronny Francis as a second line center, you got a hell of a team. The list goes on and on in terms of their depth, so there was never an easy one to one: win in Pittsburgh, and two: win at home, they’re a real tough team.” Ironically, one of Lindros’ fondest memories of the Penguins was tied to his nemesis Lemieux, and was a moment symbolizing the unity and respect present in the grand hockey community.
When Mario went through his health troubles, it was a real nice moment in Philly when our fans gave him a standing ovation. To be there to witness the fans give Mario a standing ovation was real special.It was just one of those moments where you battle them back and forth, and you have a certain dislike for the other side because they are so good. You end up hating teams that are good, and that’s what many of the rivalries are about.”
The year 2017 also marks the 25th anniversary of the historic 1992 NHL entry draft, Lindros’ second experience entering the league. Having declined the opportunity to play for the Quebec Nordiques as the first pick of the 1991 draft, Lindros eventually suited up for the Flyers, after an arbitrator awarded them the player from the rival New York Rangers. Though he admits it was a great honor to be selected first overall, Lindros stands by his decision to pass on a career with Quebec: “I didn’t want to play for that particular owner. I had done my homework on that particular person, and I was not going to play for him,” Lindros said. Marcel Aubut, owner of the team at the time, recently left his post with the Canadian Olympic Committee, facing allegations of sexual harassment from employees of the COC. Lindros doesn’t regret the decision, admitting he “…ended up in a good spot, a real good spot, and we had excellent teams for the most part. When I look back, I’m real proud of our group.”
Another controversy in Lindros’ illustrious career was his dispute with Bobby Clarke over Lindros’ concussion issues. The pair took their arguments to the media, with Lindros’ toughness circulating the news during his spell on injured reserve. Lindros believes the pair have fostered a healthy relationship: “I think it’s good. We had a difference of opinion when it came to some medical issues, and, listen, things have really changed.”
“Concussions are something that are dealt with in a whole different fashion now. It’s a whole new world, and I think that it’s really come to the forefront,” Lindros siad. “There’s lots of work to be done on the research side with a tangible solution to this, but as far as protocol goes, and looking out for the players’ best interests, I think the league has done a great job.”
Despite these bumps in the road, Lindros’ career will be one remembered by Flyers and hockey faithful for decades to come. He will be rightfully featured in the lead up to the Stadium Series game, which, according to him, will turn out to be a classic nail-biter: “I think it’s going to go to a long shootout, I think it’s going to go to eleven shooters, and it’ll be 4-3 Philly.”
In addition to the other Coors Light-sponsored festivities surrounding the game, fans also have the opportunity to join thousands of people making the pledge to never drive drunk and always have a designated driver with Coors Light, the Official Beer of the NHL, and TEAM Coalition. Those who make the pledge will receive a souvenir photo and be entered to win a NHL prize pack.
Photo: Bruce C. Cooper (via: Wikimedia Commons)