Clarke says 'Flyers were lucky to have' Hall of Famer Lindros
Former Philadelphia GM recalls problems with Lindros' parents
Philadelphia hockey legend Bobby Clarke remembers a day, before Eric Lindros played his first NHL game, when he hosted the future Flyers captain and his father for dinner. At one point Clarke was enjoying a beer with the elder Lindros when he looked outside and saw the prodigy, a controversial No. 1 overall pick one year earlier, playing street hockey with his 10-year-old son Lucas.
He's still touched by the moment more than 20 years later.
"It was special," Clarke said. "It was special for my kid anyway. He will never forget that."
The long-time Flyers executive, who had a sometimes acrimonious relationship with Lindros and his family, said he was pleased to see the now 43-year-old finally enter the Hockey Hall of Fame. Passed over six times previously, Lindros was inducted into the Hall on Monday evening alongside Rogie Vachon, Sergei Makarov and the late Pat Quinn.
The London, Ont. native had a memorable eight-year tenure in Philadelphia, one that saw him capture the 1995 Hart Trophy and Lester B. Pearson award and lead the Flyers to their first Stanley Cup final in a decade.
But his time with the Flyers was also turbulent, highlighted by very public spats between Lindros' family and Clarke over the club's treatment of his injuries, particularly stinging criticism from Carl about team doctors that eventually became public.
'I always got along pretty good with Eric'
Eric Lindros himself would also criticize the club's treatment of his concussion problems. Lindros was eventually stripped of the Flyers captaincy (for unrelated reasons supposedly), sat out a year over a contract dispute and was then traded to the New York Rangers.
Relations between him and the Flyers were chilly for a long while. But the two sides have since moved on.
"There's no point in being negative," Lindros said in reference to his relationship with Clarke last week. "We disagreed about some things. It's over. Let's move forward and let's be better."
"I always got along pretty good with Eric," Clarke added. "My problem was more with his mom and dad."
Clarke saw Lindros in Philadelphia during a Flyers 50th anniversary occasion last month, spoke to him, and found him to be at peace, a happily married man with three young kids.
Lindros ranks eighth in Flyers history with 290 goals, fifth with 659 points and first with 1.36 points per-game. Clarke said a place in the Hall was well-deserved. He called Lindros the game's best player for a number of years and said there hadn't been another like him since with that combination of size, skating, skill and "some nastiness."
"We all dream of having a player like that," Clarke said. "The Flyers were lucky they had him for a while."