Lindros return to Flyer family complete with number retirement

Lindros return to Flyer family complete with number retirement

PHILADELPHIA – All’s forgiven.

There never was any real contention between fans of the Flyers and Eric Lindros.

Rather, the perception was that there was a real conflict between Lindros and Flyers management for the eight years No. 88 played here. . .and beyond.

Emotions have settled down over time. It’s been nearly 17 years since the Big E played in Philadelphia and Paul Holmgren, former player and now team president, has made sure Lindros has become part of the team family again.

That was evident on Thursday night when Lindros’ jersey number was hoisted to the Wells Fargo Center rafters to join Bernie Parent, Mark Howe, Barry Ashbee, Bill Barber and Bob Clarke.

Holmgren, speaking in pre-game ceremonies, called it the “highest honor’’ the organization can give to a player.

Late in the afternoon in a session with the media, Lindros admitted he never dreamed this day would come. As you might recall, he sat out the entire 2000-2001 season (partly due to concussion problems) and then was traded to the New York Rangers.

For a decade, there was hardly a phone call between Lindros and the organization until Holmgren made contact and asked him to compete in the alumni portion of the 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia.

That broke the ice. Since then, Lindros was named to the Flyers’ Hall of Fame as well as the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“What happened (the ending) was no doubt difficult,’’ Lindros said. “And, you know, I started talking to Homer (Holmgren) in August of 2011. We got to talking and things started to build up.’’

Former general manager Bob Clarke, who was in the middle of all the controversy with Lindros, attended Thursday night’s game but did not take part in the ceremonies.

The two appear to have reached an uneasy truce.

Lindros voiced appreciation for some of the trades Clarke made to make the Flyers competitive.

“Bob Clarke knows talent,’’ Lindros said. “The (1994) trade that he made (John LeClair, Eric Desjardins, Gilbert Dionne from Montreal for Mark Recchi) was the biggest trade that we could have hoped for our hockey club.

“For some reason, all the pieces fit together and it worked. He wasn’t afraid to go out and grab guys like Craig MacTavish. He made some big saves.’’

Clarke did give Lindros a ringing endorsement for his Hockey Hall of Fame induction and that meant a lot.

“We disagreed on some things, no doubt,’’ Lindros said. “But when it came down to hockey. . .if winning is it, I can’t question Bob.’’

Attending the on-ice ceremony were LeClair, Mikael Renberg, his brother, Brett, his parents, along with Eric’s wife and three children.

The Flyers gave Lindros a Rolex watch with “88’’ engraved on the back.

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About Wayne Fish 2437 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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