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1991: Eric Lindros snubs the Quebec Nordiques

The Story

He's being called "The Next Great One"; heir apparent to the hockey legacies of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. But Eric Lindros won't be the next player for the Quebec Nordiques. The 18-year-old superstar has been selected first overall by the team in the 1991 NHL entry draft. Smelling better opportunities outside Quebec, Lindros refuses to join the Nordiques, opting to stay with his junior hockey team, the Oshawa Generals. As we see in this clip, Quebecers are furious at the snub.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Sept. 3, 1991
Guests: Eric Lindros, Brian Mulroney
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Karen Gross
Duration: 2:10
Newspapers: Le Soleil and Le Journal de Québec

Did You know?

• Eric Lindros was born in London, Ont., on Feb. 28, 1973. He became a teenage hockey sensation; a big, hard-hitting centre with quick hands and feet.

• At 16 he was drafted by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, but refused to report because his parents wanted him playing closer to home. Lindros played with a junior team in Detroit until he was traded to Oshawa.

• In 1990 he helped the Generals win the Memorial Cup, was named CHL player of the year and led Canada's junior team to a gold medal.

• The Quebec Nordiques finished in last place in the 1990-91 season, winning just 16 games.  They received the first pick in the 1991 entry draft and set their sights on Lindros, the draft's obvious first selection. But Eric Lindros' parents informed the team that he was not interested in playing for them. The Nordiques drafted him anyway. Seeing a last place team in a primarily French marketplace that would present few endorsement possibilities, Lindros refused to report.

• Instead of joining the Nordiques, Eric Lindros returned to his minor league Oshawa Generals. (Under the NHL's most recent collective bargaining agreement, the team drafting a player has up to two years in which they hold the rights to sign the player to a contract.)

• Quebecers were insulted and Lindros was derided in the Quebec press, sometimes called bébé Lindros -- ridiculed as a teenager who would rather play with boys in the minors than with men in Quebec.

• Many Quebec hockey fans boycotted the Team Canada game at the Quebec Coliseum that  year, mentioned at the end of this clip. In the end, Lindros decided not to show up for the game.

• In June 1992, Eric Lindros was finally traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for six players, draft picks and $15 million US. The new players turned the Nordiques around dramatically, but fans still felt the sting of Lindros rejecting their city. In his first game against the Nordiques, Quebec fans littered the ice with pacifiers and diapers.

• Eric Lindros flourished in Philadelphia, scoring 41 goals in his first season. He was the NHL's most valuable player in 1994-95.

• That same year, Quebec Nordiques owner Marcel Aubut demanded a new arena and debt relief from the provincial government. A bailout package worth about $50 million was rejected by the owners as insufficient, and in May 1995 the Nordiques were sold to Denver, Colo., for $75 million US. The Nordiques played their last game on May 16, 1995.

• Eric Lindros was captain of Canada's 1998 Olympic hockey team in Nagano, and helped Canada win a gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

• A collapsed lung forced Lindros to miss the 1999 playoffs. In the 1999-2000 season he received four concussions (a problem that ended the career of his younger brother Brett in 1996).

• In the fall of 2000, Eric Lindros demanded to be traded to Toronto. Angered, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Bobby Clarke refused. Lindros sat out the entire 2000-2001 season.

• Eric Lindros was traded to the New York Rangers in 2001. He was hampered by more concussions and a shoulder injury, and in June 2004 the Rangers opted not to continue his $10.25 million contract, leaving him an unrestricted free agent.

• The Quebec Nordiques were one of the original World Hockey Association teams, a league that was established in 1972 to rival the National Hockey League. Other teams included the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets.

• The WHA struggled, and was merged with the NHL in 1979. Quebec City became the smallest market of the 26 teams in the NHL. The Nordiques made the playoffs several times and won their division in 1985-86, but never made the finals.


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