Perhaps no player who has ever suited up in the NHL offered the size-skill combination that former Philadelphia Flyers center Eric Lindros brought to the table. Before ever playing a game in the league Lindros was being compared to some of the game’s greats and had already been given the nickname, “The Next One,” which was a play on Wayne Gretzky’s “The Great One” moniker.
Ultimately, concussions would derail his career, causing him to miss substantial time throughout his playing days. Just once did the big pivot appear in more than 73 games in a single season. Still, Lindros tallied 1.14 points-per-game throughout his career and recorded better than a point-per-game average in each of his first nine NHL campaigns. His accomplishments have finally been rewarded with his election to the Hockey Hall of Fame following a six year wait.
Lindros talked about his career today and among other topics, Dave Isaac writes that at one point in 2012, four years after he initially retired from the NHL, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren talked with the “Big E” about a comeback.
Evidently, while participating in the alumni game just prior to the 2012 Winter Classic, Lindros impressed Holmgren enough that the Philadelphia executive approached him about rejoining the Flyers for the stretch run.
“Yeah, I did place a call to Eric in 2012 to see whether he would consider coming back. He looked that good at the outdoor alumni game. I thought he could help our team.”
Apparently Lindros was unsure if Holmgren was serious or not:
“We were playing in that baseball stadium and I think he had the worst seat in the house. He must have been up in the bleachers or something. I don’t know what game he was watching, but I got a call.”
“I don’t know! He was talking cap space. He was going right into it. I don’t know if he was pulling my leg or not. I don’t know. I think he was pretty serious, but I was laughing. Wow.”
Of course the idea sounds far-fetched today given Lindros would have turned 39 in February of 2012 and hadn’t seen any NHL action since the 2006 – 2007 campaign. But it’s interesting to imagine how Lindros would have fared had he decided on a comeback.