NHL Alumni Eric Lindros chats about his father shaping him as an athlete, becoming the youngest captain in Flyer’s history, the Fanatics All-In Challenge and much more.
BY: Riley Horan
JULY 23, 2020
With 760 games played and 865 points, the 13-year NHL veteran looked back on some of his most memorable moments on and off the ice. From a 5 million dollar donation to the pressure of being named the youngest team captain in Philadelphia Flyers’ history, Eric Lindros talks in-depth about his personal experiences and lessons learned. Here’s Lindros in his own words:
RILEY HORAN: Your father, Carl Lindros, was drafted to the CFL in 1970, can you tell me about some of the things he taught You That contributed to you being such a tremendous athlete?
ERIC LINDROS: I think one of the biggest things was my dad always made time. I think he made bad passes on purpose so that you would have to react to them. I think it was one of those situations where anyone can take a puck or a nice pass to the stick but it’s a whole lot harder to take a pass to your skate and get it to your stick as quickly as possible and then to be able to do something with it. My dad was also big on neck strength, which I think helped immensely with contact. Coming from football he taught the right way to load your legs when you are venturing into contact or when you’re about to receive it. You know, doing what you can with the amount of time you have. There was a lot of repetition, including buckets and buckets of pucks in the driveway. My dad tried to come up with some good games and he had different ways of doing things. He was big on skill. We had a backyard rink and at that time you’d be able to rent ice in the morning before school that was really cheap. There would only be four or five of us on the ice before school and we would be able to work on a lot of different drills there. Puck handling, touches, everything with a puck. Never skating to just skate but always skating with a puck.
RH: Your entire career you have worn #88. Can you tell me the story/reason you chose your famous #88?
EL: I wore 8 at St. Mikes and when I was traded to Oshawa, Iain Fraser was the captain. He wore number 8 so they gave me a choice of 24 or 88, so I took 88.
RH: Early on in your career, you became the youngest captain in Flyers history at only 21. What was that feeling and THE pressure like?
EL: We had a good group of veterans. Even if you are a captain at 30 years old, I think it’s always helpful to have a really good group of people and other veterans around you that might not be captains but are good leaders in their own way. We had some real quality veteran players that were not just good on the ice, but they were nice, respected people off the ice. I look at the Toronto Raptors and look at the transformation of the team. They made a huge trade, but it wasn’t just that, it was bringing in Pascal (Siakam) to the team, it was filling in the holes whether it be through free agency, through trades, or through the draft and then of course Kyle Lowry who has been on the team for many years. If you listen to those guys speak, it just seems like a real nice group. It just seems like they are just good, respected people, and yes, they can play basketball extremely well for sure, there is no question about that, but what I think put them over the edge was just their combination of skill and personality. Their general manager put a heck of a group together to win. I look at that Toronto Raptors team and I think about the importance of having good veteran players. Without real quality people, it doesn’t happen. You can get a real sense for it every time they are interviewed, just what good people they are.
RH: Your “Legion of Doom” line was one of the most renowned lines in hockey history being a massive dominant force on the ice, what do you think was the biggest difference-maker and reason you guys clicked SO WELL?
EL: I think for one, we enjoyed each others company. It didn’t matter who scored as long as we were not getting scored on and two, we were scoring. We had fun at practice and joked around a lot. We spent some time off the ice together as well. Everyone goes through things off the ice, at different times. Johnny (LeClair) got married and ended up having kids first, Renny (Renberg) was next. I didn’t have kids and I wasn’t married at the time. Everyone goes through different things off the ice, but it seemed like we spent a fair bit of time together off the ice, regardless of our situations. I don’t know, it just seemed to come together. You know Johnny is a big strong guy and he can skate. He can really skate. I don’t think people realize how fast he was. I think they realize how powerful he was, but I don’t think they realized how fast he was. And Renny was the same way. Renny was a tremendous passer and just a real conscientious player so it just seemed to roll.
RH: What is it like getting back out on the ice with those guys?
EL: Renny doesn’t skate anymore and Johnny skates a fair bit, he can still shoot it. I try to skate as much as I can. Renny is actually a physiotherapist now in Sweden. He’s doing really well. He comes over and skates every once in a while, it’s really nice and just fun to be out on the ice and have a good time together.
RH: Can you tell me about what it was like to represent Canada and win a gold medal AT THE 2002 Winter OLYMPICS in salt lake?
EL: That was good. It was a lot of redemption after 1998. We had a real good team in ‘98. We lost one period of hockey before the bronze medal game. Had it not been for Dominik Hašek, things would have been a lot different, so it was nice to win. We also went into the third period in 1992 in Albertville. We lost to Russia, but we got a silver. I recall having a 5-on-3 that we didn’t score on and that proved to be a big difference. I think we ended up losing by a pair and that would have really helped. Maybe three goals with the empty netter, so anyway it’s always an honour. Whether it’s the Canada Cup or World Cup or Olympics or World Juniors, any time you can represent Canada it’s extremely special.
RH: Your number was put to the rafters and retired by PHILADELPHIA, You were named one of the NHL’s 100 greatest players and WAS INDUCTED INTO THE HOCKEY Hall of Fame. What was it like sharing THESE HONOURS with your family?
EL: Yeah that’s special. My kids are just starting to get a bit of an understanding of things. They all skate, they have seen pictures and things like that but it’s kind of neat to go into a rink and see your number up there and your kids look up and point at it. That will always be special. It’s a real honour. It’s a chance to look back and to be grateful for teammates and coaches and the fans really. The fans in Philadelphia are really terrific. They know what they are doing, they know the game and they think for themselves. They don’t necessarily fall for some of the charades that might happen. I think they are pretty independent thinkers.
RH: When you see photos it must bring you back to a unique place and time.
EL: Yes, there are lots of prints. There is a lot to be thankful for. You look back and just think you are pretty blessed, very blessed.
RH: In 2007, you donated $5 million to The London Health Sciences Centre which benefited the fowler Kennedy sports medicine clinic. Can you talk about the decision to do that and what donating that record amount meant to you?
EL: Well it was important. Dr. Fowler is really just a terrific person. A real collaborator. He came up with different methods of surgery in the past. He’s just a legend. What he’s really good at is sharing and collaborating with professionals when he finds a way to do something better, he’s the first to share it with others so that they can use it in their practice. That’s the way that science grows, or you start to make advances is through collaboration, not one group can do it all. So that was the idea with that. It was to help out and put something in place that had emphasis on collaboration and on the principles of what Dr. Fowler was about in terms of his ideas, especially with shoulder surgery. He came up with different methods and was quick to get in front of the world stage and present it. A lot of people don’t know that. A lot of the Toronto Blue Jays go down and see him for their shoulder issues. Like if you look at Paul Beeston and the origins of the Toronto Blue Jays early on, there is a lot of London, Ontario there. Dr. Fowler saw a number of the Jays and had different ideas and different ways of doing things that he was sharing with others. The concept was collaboration and that was the spirit of it. I would think, I would hope, I would pray right now that under the circumstances that we’re all under that collaboration is at a height we’ve never ever seen before. That notes are being expressed and shared as quickly as possible so that it might save others from going down a dead-end or continue to build off each other’s ideas. Working in silos, you are not going to get there as well or as quickly. It just makes sense. It’s a numbers game, you should be spreading the work with people that are in the field as opposed to just keeping it to your group of five or six. Yeah sure, you may get lucky but if you are being really open about what you are doing, maybe you are one of the building blocks to what ends up being the solution.
RH: What is it like becoming an ambassador for the FLYERS and being a part of their FANATICS ALL-IN Challenge?
EL: The ALL-IN Challenge is a lot of fun. It’s going to be a great day. Valerie Camillo has basically opened up whatever was available at the Wells Fargo Center and said to utilize it all. To utilize every square inch of that rink to have some fun was really great thinking. What the ALL-IN Challenge is focusing on is three areas in respect to food. It’s about the kids that are normally relying on being fed in school and are now missing out on those meals, they are getting help. It’s the front-line workers and it’s the elderly that need food in these times. Obviously three really important areas. Three different groups and certainly food and water are pretty important things so that’s what it’s all about. I hope to get down there and get some hockey going. Hopefully we can be playing soon if things go well and maybe get into a rink in the near future and with great collaboration in the scientific world, maybe we will!
Stay tuned for more upcoming interviews with NHL Alumni showing a more personal side of the game.