Eric Lin­dros finds peace in rec­on­cil­ing with past

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - SPORTS - By John Wawrow

Eric Lin­dros is at­tempt­ing to rec­on­cile his past and re­flect­ing on how far he’s come from a 13-year NHL ca­reer that be­gan with his de­ci­sion to miss his first sea­son and ended up short­ened by con­cus­sions.

Eric Lin­dros was as sur­prised as ev­ery­one else in the au­di­ence when a FrenchCana­dian tele­vi­sion talk show co-host pre­sented him with a No. 88 Que­bec Nordiques jer­sey.

With the cam­eras rolling, Lin­dros pulled the for­mer NHL fran­chise’s blue, red and white col­ors over his head with­out reser­va­tion and smiled.

“The side­kick wanted to have some fun and pulled out a jer­sey and said, ‘Here’s a part­ing gift,”’ Lin­dros said Wed­nes­day, re­call­ing his guest ap­pear­ance on “Tout Le Monde En Parle” last week­end. “It was a good mo­ment.”

It was also an act Lin­dros would never have con­sid­ered 15 years ago, let alone in 1991. That’s when Lin­dros re­fused play for Que­bec af­ter be­ing drafted by the Nordiques with the No. 1 pick be­fore forc­ing his trade to Philadel­phia a year later.

Lin­dros paused for nearly 25 sec­onds over the phone in at­tempt­ing to rec­on­cile his past with the present, and re­flect­ing on how far he’s come in mov­ing on from a 13-year NHL ca­reer that be­gan with his de­ci­sion to miss his en­tire first sea­son and ended up short­ened by con­cus­sions.

“Things change, right?” he said. “It was an in­ter­est­ing time back then. It’s a lot dif­fer­ent now.”

So is Lin­dros, a few weeks shy of his 44th birth­day. Liv­ing in Toronto, he’s mar­ried with three young chil­dren and the co-owner of a cloth­ing dis­tri­bu­tion com­pany.

“It’s not sexy by any stretch,” he said of his new life.

And yet it’s ful­fill­ing for a the 1995 Hart Tro­phy-win­ner, who finds him­self at peace 10 years since he re­tired fol­low­ing one-year stint in Dal­las.

Lin­dros has reached a stage where he is re-en­ter­ing the spot­light, a process that be­gan with him be­ing in­ducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Novem­ber. He’s be­gun tak­ing part in Fly­ers alumni events. His TV ap­pear­ance last week­end was to pro­mote a French-Cana­dian doc­u­men­tary, “Lin­dros Re­vis­ite,” high­light­ing the events that led to him not play­ing for the Nordiques.

At a time Lin­dros is com­fort­able re­flect­ing on his past, he’s also pre­pared to part with some of it.

Lin­dros has placed about 50 pieces of mem­o­ra­bilia up for sale on the Clas­sic Auc­tions web­site. The items range from game-worn Fly­ers jer­seys from his rookie sea­son, to three sticks he used in his fi­nal game with Dal­las. Other items in­clude a Team Canada jer­sey Lin­dros wore at the 1992 Al­bertville Games. The auc­tion closes on March 7.

The de­ci­sion to sell his mem­o­ra­bilia co­in­cides with his fam­ily pre­par­ing to move into a new home.

“It’s just time to move on,” Lin­dros said. “There’s no need to have things ly­ing all around. Don’t get me wrong, I’m al­ways grate­ful and ap­pre­cia­tive of my ex­pe­ri­ences in hockey. It’s just that we don’t have things hang­ing on the wall. That’s just not us.” Sort­ing through the items brought back mem­o­ries for Lin­dros, and re­minded him of how for­tu­nate he was to play in the NHL. He has also found per­spec­tive in how the sec­ond half of his ca­reer was side­tracked by the de­bil­i­tat­ing ef­fects of at least six con­cus­sions.

The most dev­as­tat­ing came dur­ing Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nals, when New Jer­sey cap­tain Scott Stevens low­ered his shoul­der and de­liv­ered a heavy hit in catch­ing Lin­dros with his head down while cross­ing the Devils’ blue line.

Lin­dros ac­knowl­edged he was never the same player af­ter that check, and de­vel­oped a pho­bia of cut­ting through the mid­dle.

He scored 290 goals and 659 points in 486 games with the Fly­ers. Af­ter sit­ting out 2000-01, he com­bined for 82 goals and 206 points in 274 games over his fi­nal five sea­sons split over three teams.

Upon his re­tire­ment, Lin­dros has been ac­tive in rais­ing aware­ness re­gard­ing the ef­fects of head in­juries and back­ing re­search on how to treat them. He do­nated $5 mil­lion to his home­town Lon­don (On­tario) Health Sciences Foun­da­tion and its sports medicine clinic.

Lin­dros sup­ports the NHL for es­tab­lish­ing con­cus­sion pro­to­cols and rules to re­duce the num­ber of head in­juries. And yet, he adds, much more can be done.

“I don’t think there’s any point in look­ing back­ward,” he said, re­fer­ring to how lit­tle was known about treat­ing con­cus­sions when he was side­lined.

“I think we can do bet­ter,” Lin­dros added. “If we can com­mu­ni­cate bet­ter. If we can share ideas bet­ter. If we can bring our re­sults to the ta­ble in a much more timely fash­ion and col­lab­o­rate. I have to be­lieve it’s pos­si­ble.”


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