Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Eric Lindros to call it a career on Thursday

The word is quickly making the rounds in hockey circles, the former Legionnaire of Doom, the fellow that they called the Big E, Eric the Great (or the Grate depending on who you were talking to) Eric Lindros is about to bring an end to his NHL career.

As frequently controversial as he was injured, Lindros had a career of unfulfilled potential cut short by a number of injuries the most serious of which were the frequent concussions that left him off the ice for large periods of time.

When he was in uniform though he could be one of the most dominating players on the ice, a long watched talent from his early hockey days who took his many skills to the pros and for brief spurts of time gave notice that he could be "the next one".

That title has been transferred to Sidney Crosby, but in his day Lindros commanded the same kind of media attention.
His journey in the spotlight began in his formative years, and the first hint of controversy came when he chose not to join the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL, earning him public enemy number one status in Northern Ontario for years. It would prove to be just the beginning of wearing the Darth Vader role for hockey fans.
From his very early days in the NHL and the refusal to join another team, this time the Quebec Nordiques in 1991 he seemed to be determined to do things his way. He eventually would be awarded to the Flyers in a most controversial NHL affair ( and for which he has forever been held in enmity in Quebec). Through his stops with the Flyers, Rangers, Leafs and Stars, Lindros has been a lightning rod for opinion.

Those that liked his play found him to be a determined young man, with a clear vision in mind as to where he wanted his career to go. Those that found him wanting (like six or so million hockey fans in Quebec) saw him as a puppet to his mother and fathers ambitions. You were either for him or agin him it seemed for the duration of his career.

Through his days in the NHL he showed bursts of stardom, his time in Philadelphia perhaps the most marketable of times tied in with that whole Legion of Doom scenario built there, the last great name for hockey line in recent history.

He had mixed results in New York, though with that franchise its always hard to determine if its the player or the entire Ranger culture there that makes or breaks your career.

His days with the Leafs and the Stars at the end of his career were not the highlight reel events that the early days brought, it was very much a bruised and battered Lindros who skated in the last number of years, sometimes too tentative with good reason, but still not as dominant as he once seemed to be on the verge of becoming.

He never seemed to recover from a bone shaking check (some say forearm shiver) administered by New Jersey's Scott Stevens, it was as hard a check as has ever been delivered and it seemed to mark the date forever in Lindros' ability to stay healthy and to perform to the high standards that he had in the past.

He has spent the last number of months working on behalf of the NHLPA, one of the key members of the search committee that recently hired as the new director. It was a task which he apparently relished and found enjoyable, leading some to believe that there is a future for him working in the Players Association office.

Bringing to an end a sixteen year journey that took him from highs to lows, from a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve and then through the fogs of concussion that took the game away from him.

It was a fascinating ride, which left many wishing for more from a player that many thought would dominate and rewrite record books. Whether they're talking about him in Philly, Toronto, Quebec City or Sault Ste. Marie, one thing is certain everyone had an opinion about Eric Lindros.

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