Friday, August 12, 2005

The Big E heads for the ACC

Roughly four years after it was first suggested that Eric Lindros might end up as a Toronto Maple Leaf, the paper work has been completed and Lindros pulled on a number 88 Maple Leaf Jersey.

Leaf GM John Ferguson Junior introduced the much injured Lindros to the Leaf Nation on Thursday as Lindros signed up for a year contract at about 1.5 million dollars. Lindros addressed concerns about his many concussions and injuries over the last few years and stated that he was in fine shape to resume his NHL career in a city he's always dreamed of playing in.

With an MRI for his shoulder and concussion specialists consulted Lindros declared himself fit for battle and ready to help the Leafs get back on track. He admitted that he has had to change his game over the years and no longer is the crashing and banging power forward who broke into the league with the Philadelphia Flyers back in 1991.

Lindros' career has been dogged with controversy and injury throughout, from his early scraps with the ruling class of Junior hockey to the bitter events around his drafting by the Quebec Nordiques, the Lindros family have certainly had their fair share of attention over the years.

In his press conference Lindros joked about perhaps being handed a dusty sweater, a reminder that he almost joined the Leafs back in 2001 when a February deal collapsed between the Flyers and the Leafs. Lindros eventually ended up in New York City where injuries once again took their toll on a promising career.

Many are wondering how Lindros will shape up in Toronto, having to change his style of play and always aware of one more career ending hit. Where Pat Quinn decides to play his newest player is also to be determined, originally a centre it's a position that Lindros would like to return to if possible, but may find himself as winger depending on the combinations available to Quinn. More important will be the reaction of the Toronto media and the Maple Leaf fans, playing for the Leafs is very much like putting yourself under a giant microscope, every event in your day is under scrutiny, you can go from hero to bum in a very short period of time. Lindros says he is prepared for the extra attention and expectations, considering his past history it could be an interesting time in the big city.

The Lindros signing is pretty well a risk free move for the Leafs, the payment out is not an onerous bit of financial work, rumours abound that there are a few incentives for Lindros but none were mentioned by Ferguson at the press conference. The Lindros career has been very much a star crossed affair, never quite achieving the levels expected of him as his body became more and more battered over the years.

The one year deal will be a test of sorts for Lindros, he hopes to be with the Leafs for a few more years to come. But as with many of his other hopes over the years circumstances may dictate a different outcome. Regardless many are hoping tha the Big E finds success in Toronto, that he remains healthy and that events all work out well for him. And of course should he actually still be around should the Leafs lift up the Stanley Cup, then hero status will immediately be his.

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