Eric Lindros Rejoins the Flyers as Ambassador: What’s Changed Since their Feud
On April 23, 2020, the Philadelphia Flyers announced that former player and Hall of Famer, Eric Lindros, would once again be a part of the organization. Lindros will serve as the team’s official ambassador, and his first project will be getting the team involved with the ALL IN Challenge, a fundraiser for Covid-19 relief.
"I look forward to being back with my Flyers family and kicking things off in a way that makes a positive impact during a time of need.” –@88EricLindros on becoming an official team ambassador. https://t.co/iVsASSFdjj
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) April 24, 2020
Lindros responded to the Flyer’s tweet with a message of his own:
It’s official, I’m coming home https://t.co/RTnK5ASKyl
— Eric Lindros (@88EricLindros) April 24, 2020
The tweet is strikingly positive in contrast to Lindros’ attitude when he left the organization in 2001. In fact, many Flyers fans can’t help but recall the infamous events that transpired almost 19 years ago, so what’s changed since then?
Much of the tension between Lindros and the organization did not result from his actions, but those of his father, Carl Lindros, who also acted as Eric’s agent. In Eric’s first season as a Flyer, his father and former Flyers player and GM, Bob Clarke got along quite well. But as Eric’s career progressed, that relationship diminished completely.
Lindros was plagued with injuries during much of his career, most notably, his collapsed lung and 6 concussions he suffered while playing for the hockey club (he suffered 8 concussions total in his career). It was these injuries that created the rift between the Lindros family and the Flyers organization. Carl Lindros publicly criticized John Worley, the team trainer, and the organization as a whole for how they handled his son’s injuries. GM Bob Clarke, being the proud and stubborn man he was, took all of these criticisms as a direct attack to the organization that he was so loyal to and came to resent the Lindros family for their comments on his staff. Clarke disliked Carl’s over involvement in Eric’s career as an adult and said that he refused to be pushed around by a player’s family. Many of Carl’s comments on the organization were unprofessional because of how close he was to the situation. While he was Eric’s father, saying that Clarke had attempted to “kill” his son is quite the emotional and unprofessional stance to take as Eric’s agent. That said, Clarke’s reaction was unprofessional as well, as he too was fueled by an emotional sense of loyalty to his hockey club and their image. Personality and pride caused the two to continue to butt heads until Lindros no longer played for the Flyers.
Before returning from yet another injury to play 2 more games (Games 6 and 7 of the Stanley Cup playoff series against the Devils in 2000) as a Flyer, Lindros had been stripped of his title as captain. The situation reached its peak after the hit on Lindros by Scott Stevens in Game 7 of the series.
This hit caused Lindros to suffer from his 6th concussion and marked his last game as a Flyer. While he had recovered by December of 2000, he sat out for the remainder of the 2000-2001 season.
On August 20, 2001, Lindros was traded to the New York Rangers.
Rebuilding a Relationship:
A situation like that does not resolve itself quickly, and it took 10 years for Lindros and Clarke to begin to mend their relationship.
Before the 2012 Winter Classic Alumni Game, the pair spoke in December and Clarke told NBC Sports after the discussion that “the Flyers are his [Lindros’] home”.
Relations between the club and Lindros only improved from there; in 2014, the Flyers added Lindros to their Hall of Fame and in 2016, Lindros became a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame with the help of Clarke, who pushed for his induction. On January 18, 2018, Lindros’ #88 was retired to the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center.
With Lindros becoming the team’s official ambassador, his story has come full circle as he returns to the organization on good terms. Lindros described his feelings on starting this new chapter by saying, “Philadelphia has always been my home away from home and I’m eager to continue connecting with and giving back to the passionate Flyers fan base that has treated me so well over the past two decades.”
It’s terrific to see that the two Flyers greats were able to work out their differences over the years, as they are both key figures in Philadelphia hockey history. This positive relationship and newfound partnership between Eric and the organization will undoubtedly have a positive ripple effect on the Flyers’ future (an ultimate game day experience featuring Lindros is already in the works, and the proceeds will go towards the ALL IN Challenge). The news about Lindros’ new position has also come with countless positive reactions from Flyers fans, so it’s safe to say that Philadelphia is just as eager as #88 for his return home.