While he won’t be competing in the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs, Oskar Lindblom can certainly continue to serve as an inspiration to all his Flyers teammates.
That was evident on Tuesday when Lindblom, who has been battling a rare form of bone cancer (Ewing’s sarcoma) since December, took to the Skate Zone ice for an informal practice.
There were smiles all around, with the biggest one planted firmly on the face of Lindblom, whose bravery has resulted in being voted this year’s Flyers’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (perseverance, sportsmanship, dedication).
The talented Swedish winger was off to a brilliant start this past season, leading the Flyers in goals with 11, when the diagnosis came down.
Since then, he’s been undergoing chemotherapy treatments and trying to make a full recovery with hopes of resuming his NHL career, possibly for the 2020-21 season.
Lindblom, a former fifth-round pick (138th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, said he really enjoyed getting back on the ice in Voorhees, N.J. with a handful of teammates.
Like all hockey players, it’s been frustrating not being able to get on the ice much during the pandemic, so that made Tuesday’s appearance even more special.
“Been on the ice three or four times but it’s been so long between the different times. . .it’s fun to be out there but it’s still tough to not be as good as you used to be when you were normal,’’ the 23-year-old Lindblom said during an interview with the Flyers’ public relations department.
“But it’s fun to be out there, fun to meet all the boys again. Just skate around and get the feel of it. The only thing I’m waiting for right now is to get with my team and get back with the season and play some hockey. That would be unreal, to get back to real life again and have fun.’’
Lindblom disclosed he’s getting close to completing his treatments and hopefully the disease will be put in total remission.
“They (the treatments) are going great,’’ Lindblom said. “I don’t have a lot left. I’m just trying to enjoy my life as is. I mean I can’t complain. (Other) people have it worse. I’m just happy to be where I am right now.’’
It’s unclear how much skating and practice time Lindblom can get in during the summer months but it’s certain his mind and heart will be with his teammates.
He believes the Flyers have the right stuff to make a decent go of it once the postseason commences.
“I think there are great chances for the Flyers this year,’’ he said. “At the end of the season they had a real good push and I felt like our team is so good together.
“I can’t wait to see them again and I can’t wait to be with them and practice. I think we have a great chance to push for a good playoff run here.’’
Players from all around the NHL have rallied around Lindblom’s health crisis, many of them – including Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby — wearing “Oskar Strong, #23’’ T-shirts.
General manager Chuck Fletcher was encouraged by what he saw of Lindblom’s workout.
“It was great to see him out there,” Fletcher said. ” He looked really good on the ice, his hands are still there. It is remarkable to think that with all the treatments that he has had he was able to go out there today and still show the skill and still have the stamina to skate for about 35-40 minutes.
“It’s a great sign for him and very exciting to think that with all going well in the future he’s going to return to play for us. Obviously, Phase 2 is voluntary and every player and staff member must follow very strict guidelines and rules. Our practice facility is a very safe environment, safer than most places.”