Hockey Hall of Fame and Flyers Hall of Fame center and one-time Flyers captain Eric Lindros was born on February 28, 1973 in London, Ontario. A hockey prodigy, Lindros drew comparisons as a teenager to the likes of Gordie Howe, Mark Messier and Mario Lemieux. Although plagued by injuries during his career, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Lindros combined brute force and skillful finesse to make for an often-unstoppable force when healthy.
The Flyers' franchise all-time points-per-game leader (1.35 points per game), Lindros racked up 659 points (290 goals, 369 assists) in 468 regular season games with the team, along with 946 penalty minutes. In 50 playoff games, Lindros posted 57 points (24 goals, 33 assists).
Winner of the Hart Trophy and Lester Pearson Award (now called the Ted Lindsay Award) in 1994-95, a finalist for the Hart the next season, Lindros played in six NHL All-Star Games during his years in Philadelphia. He captained the 1994-95 Flyers team that came within two wins of the Stanley Cup Final and the 1996-97 squad that won the Eastern Conference Championship in route to the reaching the Stanley Cup Final. During his time with the Flyers, Lindros also represented Team Canada at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and captained the Canadian entry at the 1998 Olympics.
Drafted by the Quebec Nordiques with the first overall pick of the 1991 NHL Draft, Lindros declined to play for the team. A fierce bidding war ensued, with numerous NHL teams offering massive returns to the Nordiques for the rights to the highly touted teenagers. For the next year, the Nordiques declined all offers, as the prices escalated higher and higher.
Finally, in one of the biggest blockbuster deals in NHL history, the Nordiques verbally agreed to a June 20, 1992 trade with the Flyers that sent Lindros' rights to Philadelphia in exchange for NHL roster center Mike Ricci, goaltender Ron Hextall, defensemen Steve Duchesne and Kerry Huffman, Swedish prospect Peter Forsberg (the Flyers' 1991 first-round pick), $15 million (USD) in cash, the earlier of the Flyers' two first-round picks in the 1992 NHL Draft and the Flyers first-round picks in the 1993 (Jocelyn Thibault) and 1994 drafts (Nolan Baumgartner).
After verbally agreeing and shaking hands with the Flyers on the deal, the Nordiques turned around and decided instead to trade Lindros' rights to the Rangers. Although not revealed publically, the New York trade offer included forward Alexei Kovalev, goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck and future star forwards Doug Weight and Tony Amonte along with similar cash compensation and draft pick assets.
With the disputed trade held up by the NHL, the Flyers selected Ryan Sittler with the seventh overall pick of the 1992 NHL Draft. On June 30, 1992, following emotionally charged arbitration hearings in Toronto, arbitrator Larry Bertuzzi ruled that the Flyers had made an enforceable trade and the Rangers deal was nullified. To complete the trade with Philadelphia, the Nordiques accepted enforcer prospect Chris Simon (whom the Flyers had drafted in the second round of the 1990 Draft) in lieu of the pick already used by the Flyers on Sittler.
The Lindros trade to Philadelphia would go on to become one of the most debated deals in NHL annals. The reality: both sides benefited. Forsberg went on to have a Hall of Fame career of his own and the deal was a boon to the Nordiques (later Colorado Avalanche) in assembling an eventual two-time Stanley Cup champion and perennial contender. In the meantime, Lindros's talent came as advertised, and he became a franchise player on Flyers teams that were built into perennial contenders in their own right.
Early in his Flyers career, Lindros anchored a highly successful line with Mark Recchi and Brent Fedyk, known as the Crazy Eights line because Lindros wore uniform number 88, Recchi wore number 8, and Fedyk wore number 18. Later, beginning in the lockout shortened 1995-96 season, Lindros centered a trio known as the Legion of Doom line. Along with left winger John LeClair, the most successful version of the line was the original unit featuring Mikael Renberg at right wing from 1994-95 through 1996-97. Over its history, players such as Dan Quinn and Hall of Fame forward Dale Hawerchuk substituted for Renberg when he was injured. Additionally, players such as Dainius Zubrus, Trent Klatt, Mike Maneluk and, most notably, Keith Jones (1998-99 and 1999-2000 seasons) later occupied the right wing spot.
The latter portion of Lindros' Flyers career was overshadowed by concussions and other health issues and various controversies that resulted in escalated friction with Flyers' management. On August 20, 2001, the Flyers traded Lindros to the New York Rangers for defenseman Kim Johnsson, forwards Jan Hlavac and Pavel Brendl and a 2003 third-round pick (Stefan Ruzicka).
Lindros subsequently played for the Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Dallas Stars. Continued injuries, especially additional concussions, prematurely curtailed his effectiveness. He retired in 2007, concluding a 760-game NHL career (372 goals, 493 assists, 865 points, 1,398 penalty minutes).
In retirement, Lindros reconciled with the Flyers and both sides embraced his place in franchise history. He played with the Flyers Alumni against the Rangers Alumni at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on December 31, 2011, receiving a massive standing ovation as he was introduced. Along with LeClair, Lindros was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame in November 2013. He was later selected for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame's Class of 2016.