Eric Lindros retires from NHL
As expected, Eric Lindros confirmed his retirement from the NHL on Thursday.
Lindros, 34, made the announcement in his hometown of London, Ont., closing the book on a career that was as compelling as it was impactful.
"I truly enjoyed my days of playing and look forward to the next chapter of my life," Lindros said.
Speculation is Lindros will accept the position of ombudsman within the NHL Players' Association, under newly hired executive director Paul Kelly.
"It would be a great job," Lindros said. "Seeing the likes of Ted Lindsay, and then, later on, Carl Brewer, there are so many who have stepped up for others in the association and in the NHL [that] it would be a privilege to represent the guys."
Lindros also confirmed a $5-million donation to the London Health Sciences Foundation, which houses the Fowler Kennedy Sports Medicine Clinic, where he was often treated during his injury-plagued career.
"I believe him to be simply the best," Lindros said of co-founder Dr. Peter Fowler.
"Not only is he a world-class surgeon, but also tops as a teacher and inspiration to other doctors. I believe it's because of his care that my career lasted as long as it did."
Lindros compiled points at a Hall of Fame pace, registering 372 goals and 493 assists for 865 points in 760 games over 13 NHL seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Dallas Stars.
Lindros captured the Hart Trophy in 1995 with the Flyers after recording 70 points in 46 games in a lockout-shortened season. He enjoyed his most productive campaign the following year, posting career highs in goals (47) and points (115) in 73 games for Philadelphia.
But injuries, especially concussions, eventually took their toll as he averaged only 58 games and never played a full season.
"He had it all — size, strength and finesse," said former Flyers linemate John LeClair. "Injuries cut his time in the NHL …but he had a great career and left his mark on the game."
"Eric was the player that I hated to play against, but the guy that I absolutely loved to play with," said Matthew Barnaby, a former teammate with the Rangers.
"In my opinion, Eric was the most dominating player I faced during my time in the NHL."
Lindros, a bullish forward blessed with tremendous skill, was slowed by six concussions over a 27-month period, and failed to regain the form that earned him MVP honours.
Lindros suffered his first concussion when checked by Darius Kasparaitus on March 7, 1998, missing 18 games.
He sustained four more concussions between 1999 and 2000, but the sixth concussion, on a bone-crunching hit by Scott Stevens, knocked him out of the 2000 Stanley Cup playoffs and forced him to sit out the entire 2000-01 NHL season.
"Those type of hits, the player who is getting hit, in this case Lindros, that's his fault," Flyers senior vice-president Bob Clarke said. "He had his head down."
Lindros was never the same player after that, but went on to play five more seasons, overcoming two more concussions.
Eric's younger brother, Brett, was forced to retire from the NHL in 1996 at age 20 following a series of concussions.
'The Next One'
Eric Lindros was, arguably, the most coveted junior player of his generation, comparing in stature to Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.
Coined the Next One, the imposing centre with a combative spirit racked up 97 goals and 209 points in 95 games for the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League.
But he quickly became known for bucking the system.
Lindros spurned the Quebec Nordiques, who drafted him No. 1 overall in 1991, and later was awarded to the Flyers, who won out over the Rangers in a nasty trade dispute settled by arbitrator Larry Bertuzzi.
Lindros spent eight seasons in Philadelphia before falling into disfavour with Clarke, who engaged Lindros in a public war of words after he rejected an $8.5-million US qualifying offer.
Lindros demanded to be traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but Clarke refused to make the swap, and he languished in limbo for several months before being dealt to the New York Rangers on Aug. 20, 2001.
"We were very close to making a deal with Toronto," Clarke said. "I didn't give a s--- where we sent him, I just cared what we got back."
"But we couldn't make the deal because [Danny] Markov was hurt. Had [Tomas] Kaberle been part of the deal, we would have made it … we had no other deals on the table."
Lindros played three seasons in New York, but he remained prone to injuries and concussions.
Toronto inked him to a free-agent pact on Aug. 11, 2005, but he was limited to 32 games by a torn ligament in his left wrist.
The six-time all-star resurfaced with Dallas on July 17, 2006, but injuries sidelined him 33 games in his final NHL campaign.
"I played with the best, I played against the best," Lindros said. "It was a blast."
"It really truly was. I enjoyed myself immensely."
Lindros played numerous times for Team Canada, winning two world junior titles, the 1991 Canada Cup, an Olympic gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games and a silver medal at the 1992 Albertville Olympics.
With files from the Canadian Press