SundayXtra - - TRENDS -

Both Toc­chet and team­mate Mark Howe said they most re­mem­bered Lind­bergh’s red Porsche, and “ how shiny and beau­ti­ful it was.”

“ He wasn’t like other goal­tenders, in the sense that ev­ery day he was ca­sual and loose,” said Howe, now the di­rec­tor of pro scout­ing for the Red Wings. “ That one year ( 1981), he couldn’t stop a beach ball. He was sent back to Maine. He came back the next year like a to­tally dif­fer­ent player. He had a great mental at­ti­tude.”

“ We were a real close team,” Toc­chet said. “ He was just an in­fec­tious guy on our team. Ev­ery­body loved him. He was easy­go­ing. Usu­ally, with some goalies, you were ner­vous to be around. With him, you could walk on his pads, you could touch his stick. My­self as a rookie, he made me feel wel­comed.”

Things were go­ing so right for the Flyers in Novem­ber 1985. They started the sea­son 12-2-0 and were cel­e­brat­ing a Satur­day night win over Bos­ton, their 10th in a row. Lind­bergh won the Vez­ina Tro­phy the pre­vi­ous sea­son as the NHL’s top goal­tender, when he car­ried the Flyers to a Stan­ley Cup fi­nals loss to Ed­mon­ton.

“ I will never for­get walk­ing out of the Spec- trum that night,” Flyers chair­man Ed Snider said. “ I was think­ing that this was the best team we ever had. I was think­ing they would be even bet­ter than the Broad Street Bul­lies. Pelle was the back­bone of the team. The con­trast be­tween that night and the next morn­ing was ex­treme.” The Flyers, that year, never re­ally re­cov­ered. The emo­tion­ally ex­haust

ed group skated to a 53-23-4 record un­der Mike Keenan, the best record in the Wales Con­fer­ence, but fell in the first round of the play­offs.

“ It was very dif­fi­cult,” said Brian Propp, the team’s lead­ing scorer. “ We started off the sea­son very well, but when you lose a friend and a ris­ing star at the same time, it’s on your mind.”

“ The world just stopped for us,” Toc­chet said. “ Things were go­ing good. It just stopped ev­ery­thing. Look­ing back, I was a walk­ing zom­bie.”

Now, 25 years later, Toc­chet still thinks about Lind­bergh oc­ca­sion­ally. Lind­bergh’s me­mory is hon­ored ev­ery year with the award­ing of the Pelle Lind­bergh Me­mo­rial Tro­phy to the most im­proved Flyer, as voted by his team­mates.

“ There will be long stretches where you don’t think about him and then some­body will bring his name up and all of a sud­den you start re­flect­ing and he’ll be in your mind,” Toc­chet said. “ It’s al­most like a DVD, your mem­o­ries start spin­ning and all of a sud­den you re­mem­ber funny times in prac­tices, jokes in the lockerroom, or his beau­ti­ful fi­ancee.”

Af­ter her life was turned up­side down by one late night at the Coli­seum, a red Porsche and a wall in Somerdale, Pi­et­zsch-Somnell stayed in her and Lind­bergh’s South Jersey home for the re­main­der of the sea­son.

The fol­low­ing sum­mer, she moved into a small apart­ment in Bev­erly Hills, Calif., with the as­sis­tance of Snider, to live near an old friend from Swe­den.

“ I didn’t knowwhat I wanted to do,” she said.

“ It was very hard. When some­thing like that hap­pens, you are shocked. You feel cut off from ev­ery­thing else. You don’t know what to do.

“ Fi­nally, af­ter a few years, I was ready to go home to Swe­den.”

Just a year af­ter los­ing Lind­bergh, Pi­et­zsch-Somnell lost her mother in what she de­scribed as “ sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances.” And that’s when Lind­bergh’s mother stepped in.

Even af­ter 25 years, Pi­et­zsch-Somnell and Lind­bergh’s mother, Anna-Lise, re­main close. The two were just to­gether last week. In fact, in Lind­bergh’s child­hood home, pic­tures of the Som­nells’ three chil­dren hang on a wall be­side pic­tures of Anna-Lise’s grand­chil­dren.

In ad­di­tion to Jens, Pi­et­zsch-Somnell has two daugh­ters, Mikaela, 20, and Pe­tra, 18.

“ We have a very spe­cial re­la­tion­ship,” Pi­et­zsch-Somnell said of Anna-Lise. “ Ever since my mother passed away, she has been like a sec­ond mother to me. We are very close.” Pi­et­zsch-Somnell said the hard­est part was mov­ing on to find some­one new. She was 27, a year older than Lind­bergh when he passed. They were both so young.

“ I wished we had chil­dren, so that he would live on,” Pi­et­zsch-Somnell said. “ But I know that his me­mory still lives on. It’s hard. I still think about him. It’s up­set­ting. The truth is that time goes on.”


Pelle Lind­bergh, who was a ris­ing star at the time of this death in 1985, died from in­juries suf­fered in a crash that turned his Porsche into a pile of twisted metal and glass. His car hit a wall go­ing 80 m. p. h.

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