Getting Oskar Lindblom back into a Flyers uniform for practice would be inspiration enough.
But what if he actually competed in a playoff game? That would be something they would be talking about a hundred years from now.
Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher spoke about the possibility of the young Swede returning to the team soon during an interview with Sirius-XM radio on Wednesday.
Lindblom, recovering from his battle with Ewing’s sarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer), has been skating at home back in Sweden while visiting family and friends.
The 23-year-old left wing was included on the Flyers’ 31-player postseason roster and is eligible to play whenever he’s ready.
“He’s been back in Sweden, getting his immunity stronger,’’ Fletcher said. “He’s been doing really well, I had a conversation with him the other day. He’s looking forward to getting over here.
“Hopefully we’re getting him here to Toronto in the very near future. When he gets here, he will have to quarantine for a while. We’re hopeful if we can do our part and hang around long enough in the playoffs tournament that he might be able to come back this season.’’
The Flyers certainly were inspired by the “OskarStrong#23’’ movement. They compiled the second-best record in the NHL after Dec. 1.
“Just having him back with our group and training and being around will be not only motivating for our players but just tremendous for this young man as he tries to restart his career,’’ Fletcher said.
Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim said Lindblom is on everybody’s mind.
“Oskar’s been through a lot,’’ Sanheim said. “We’ve been with him every step of the way. We’ve been trying to support him as best we can. That’s good news about him. If he’s able to join us, I think that would be good not only for him but the team itself. It would motivate us and help us in the playoff run.’’
Added Konecny: “The work ethic he’s going to have to put in is a lot. To be able to commit to that, it makes our jobs seem like nothing. We have to think about how hard he is working. It definitely motivates us to do the work for him.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault said the Flyers have been rallying around Lindblom since the diagnosis was first made back in December.
“You know, I think just like when we saw Oskar throughout the season, knowing what he was going through – the amount of positiveness and the great smile – it no doubt would be an extra boost for our group right now,’’ Vigneault said in a Zoom call from Toronto.
“I do expect him here (in Toronto) in the near future.’’
Lindblom did get into four Stanley Cup games after the 2017-18 season against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Whether Lindblom can get enough practice time in with the Flyers to be effective remains to be seen. The Flyers took part in a rather intense two-week training camp back in Voorhees last month and Lindblom was not there to participate.
“When Oskar was diagnosed with cancer (back in December), I had talks with our doctors about is there a chance I can get him back for the playoffs,’’ Vigneault said. “Obviously the answer was no.
“This year, with the stoppage in play and the COVID factor, the season has been stretched out. I was originally told he would be ready for training camp in September, so I guess we have to wait until September.’’
>Testing, testing 1, 2, 3
Fletcher reviewed just how much testing the Flyers have to go through on a daily basis to keep the Toronto “bubble’’ safe. So far, no positive tests in the NHL.
“It’s been outstanding what the NHL has done,’’ Fletcher said. “The routine is pretty similar everyday.
“We have to do a temperature check and a symptoms check before you’re allowed to leave the hotel. Typically we do that first thing in the morning. There are daily nasal swab tests. They know if you miss a test, it’s not a good thing. The guys are taking it seriously.’’
>Reasons for Flyers’ success
During his interview, Fletcher discussed what he believes were some of the reasons for the Flyers’ successful regular season.
“I really think our players were hungry,’’ Fletcher commented. “Hungry to change things. I think last year (2018-19) was embarrassing. People lost jobs, at least in Philly. Guys recognized the importance of having a better season.
“Vigneault got the players to buy in and played the way we feel they needed to play to be successful. So it’s been a great two-way street there. We were one of the worst defensive teams last year and one of the best this year. No magic pill. We just wanted to keep the puck out of our net.’’
Fletcher said the objective for the round robin is more than just seeding. It’s about evaluation and finding the right mix of players. “We’re going to try to use more than just 18 skaters. We’re playing to win, I think our guys are taking it seriously,’’ he said. . .Fletcher said while the ice conditions at Scotiabank Arena might be less than a hundred percent, it’s not because of the air temperature. “I can guarantee it’s not because the building is too hot, it’s freezing,’’ he said with a chuckle. “I didn’t bring a parka, I wish I would have.’’