Lots of people say “can’t thank you enough’’ as almost a courtesy line for a kind act or favor.
But in Oskar Lindblom’s case, the sentiment comes straight from the heart when he attempts to articulate his feelings about Flyers fans.
At Sunday night’s home game against the New York Islanders, Lindblom will be feted as part of the Flyers’ “Hockey Fights Cancer’’ night.
Without question, even though there will be only about 4,000 fans in attendance, the ovation will be somewhat thunderous.
It won’t be the first time spectators have acknowledged Lindblom’s brave battle against Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form on bone cancer.
And it won’t be the last.
Followers of the team will remember the Flyers-Tampa Bay game on Saturday night, Jan. 11, 2020 — the first time Lindblom appeared at the Wells Fargo Center after receiving the fateful diagnosis in December, 2019.
There have been other occasions since, including the first game fans were allowed to attend at the WFC this season.
“I mean it’s special,’’ Lindblom said during a media Zoom call from the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. on Friday. “They’ve been helping me all the way. They’ve been so kind to me.
“I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me. That game was a special moment in my life.’’
Recently, Lindblom was declared cancer-free and it’s everyone’s hope that his medical status remains that way, presumably forever.
Hockey Fights Cancer is a National Hockey League program designed to acknowledge both those who have survived the illness and those who haven’t. All teams participate.
On Sunday, during pre-game warmups, the Flyers’ entire roster will wear special-edition Hockey Fights Cancer jerseys with an extra special touch. Following the game, the specialty jerseys will be auctioned off by MeiGray to support local cancer organizations.
MeiGray is the official game-worn jersey and equipment source of the Flyers. All fans in attendance will receive lavender “I Fight For…” Hockey Fights Cancer rally towels to be used during an in-game moment to honor those lost to cancer.
As in years past, the towels include a space for fans to write the name of someone they fight for in pursuit of a cure.
Prior to puck drop, Tony Campisi, a 17-year-old hockey player battling cancer for the second time, will be recognized as Toyota’s “Honorary Coach” of the game and given the opportunity to read the players in the locker room their starting lineup via Zoom.
Select players’ warmup sticks outfitted with lavender Hockey Fights Cancer tape and the game ties worn by the Flyers coaching staff will be auctioned off by Flyers Charities following the game.
Lindblom was asked what he loves most about Philadelphia fans.
“Everything,’’ he said. “It doesn’t matter if we lose or win. My first year here, we had a game on the road and I see the signs in the stands. We had more fans than the home team had. They’re everywhere and they’re real supportive. I can’t say more than that.’’
The team has been the most supportive.
“They’ve been there from the start,’’ Lindblom said. “They haven’t stopped supporting me through the whole thing. It’s such a great organization.’’
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault always talks in upbeat tones when discussing one of his favorite players.
“What he’s been through, it’s such an inspiration for our group and the hockey community. . .all the Flyers fans,’’ Vigneault said. “So obviously this is going to be a very special night for him, very special night for us.
“He’s back playing, he’s healthy. We’re real happy to have him around.’’
Considering the original diagnosis weighed in on the possibility of life-threatening implications for Lindblom, Vigneault continues to be amazed by this comeback.
“Everytime I look at him I see a beautiful young man,’’ Vigneault said. “I have some flashbacks sometimes of when we had to tell him in Denver he had cancer. We weren’t sure what type it was.
“Some of the flashbacks I have are every time he was around the team, he had no hair, smiling, being positive – I think it made everyone in our group realize how important every moment is. And to make sure you’re always at your best. He’s such a wonderful person.’’
>The weekend goaltender rotation
Vigneault announced Carter Hart, coming off his shootout win at Pittsburgh, will start Saturday’s game against Washington with Alex Lyon serving as backup. The coach wants to give veteran Brian Elliott a complete day off so that he will be rested for his start against the Islanders on Sunday.
The coach said the 36-year-old Elliott does some of his best work when he gets a chance to conserve his energy.
>Morin back in for big-boy Capitals
Defenseman Sam Morin, who sat out Thursday night’s game against the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins, will return to the lineup when the rather imposing Capitals hit the ice at 12:30 on Saturday.
Vigneault wasn’t sure which defenseman would be odd-man out to make room for Morin. In recent games it’s been Phil Myers.
>Patrick status uncertain
Nolan Patrick, who was struck in the side of the head by an errant puck off the stick of Myers and had to leave Thursday’s game, sounds like he’s ready to play Saturday but Vigneault wasn’t certain.
The coach made Friday’s practice an optional and Patrick opted out.
“From what I understand, he feels fine,’’ Vigneault said.
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