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Why This is the Ultimate Honor

A look into why #88 is joining the rarest of company as a Flyer

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

Video: Hear from Lindros following jersey retirement

Nearly 600 hockey players have suited up for the Flyers in franchise history. When the Flyers retire Eric Lindros' famed No. 88 jersey on Jan. 18, 2018, he will become just the sixth to have his number hung from the Wells Fargo Center rafters. 

#1 - Bernie Parent

#2 - Mark Howe

#4 - Barry Ashbee

#7 - Bill Barber

#16 - Bobby Clarke

There have been many great players to don the orange and black in the team's half-century history. Twenty to date have earned induction into the Flyers Hall of Fame, including Lindros. While this is tremendous and hard-to-attain honor on its own right, jersey retirement is reserved only for those at the summit of team history; the ultimate individual honor.

"I think the night Johnny and I had for the Flyers Hall of Fame was extremely special. I'm not going to lie to you, I've glanced up there every once in a while and had a look at that. This is just going to add to it," Lindros said.

"I wouldn't be in this lucky position had I not had a chance to play with Johnny [LeClair] and many others, Renny [Mikael Renberg] and some of the other wingers. Really good teammates, goaltenders. We've had wonderful coaches there [such as] Roger Neilson. Terry Murray was a strong coach, a real good teacher. We were a fortunate group in there. I don't think it really sinks in till you kind of walk through it, but I'm certainly excited about it."

Jersey retirement is a fitting honor for Lindros when one looks objectively at his career accomplishments in Philadelphia. 

He stands as the Flyers' all-time franchise leader in points-per-game average (1.36) and likewise averaged north of a point-per-game in the playoffs (57 points in 50 games; 1.14 ppg). Add to Lindros' offensive productivity the combination of artistic finesse and sheer brute force he brought to the ice. He was also a fearsome body checker and outstanding faceoff man. 

There was very little Lindros could not do when healthy. Along with three-time winner Clarke, he is the only Flyer to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player. Lindros was a finalist for the award again in 1995-96 and was a favorite to be a finalist yet again in 1998-99 until injury/health issues prevented it. 

Five of the Flyers' six retired jerseys belong to players who were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and enjoyed their most productive years in Philadelphia. 

Clarke is universally regarded as the Flyers greatest captain and playmaking center. 

Parent is the franchise's all-time top goaltender. 

Howe is the Flyers top all-time defenseman. 

Barber is the franchise's all-time leading top goal-scorer and arguably the most complete all-around winger. 

The only player not inducted into the Hall in Toronto is defenseman Ashbee, who stands in Flyers history as the inspirational embodiment of perseverance and the everyman hockey player who overachieved while stoically playing through pain.

"You look in those rafters and there's been a lot of terrific, really great players who had a chance to play in Philadelphia. To be up top and hang high up there is real special. It's a real special thing when you look up at those names," Lindros said.

Lindros' list of accomplishments during his Flyers tenure are extensive. He won both the Hart Trophy and Lester Pearson Award (now called the Ted Lindsay Award) in 1994-95. He played in six NHL All-Star Games during his Flyers years. Lindros 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. He also represented Team Canada at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and captained the Canadian entry at the 1998 Olympics.

Any discussion of the Flyers of the 1990s, especially the team's dramatic re-emergence as a perennial Stanley Cup contender after a five-year dark period, begins with dominating presence of number 88. When healthy, Eric Lindros was every bit the generational superstar he was hyped to be even years before the Flyers acquired his rights and he entered the NHL at age 19. 

To make Lindros' jersey retirement night even more special, his wife Kina, their three children, other family members and many friends will be on hand.

"Our twins will be 2 1/2 then and Carl Pierre will be about a half year away from turning four. I think Carl will probably get it a little bit better than Ryan and Sophie, but it should be exciting. Carl had a great time at the Hall of Fame events and enjoyed himself there. It's just fun to be with your family and have a chance to be there together and celebrate together," Lindros said.

Moreover, the visiting team on the night of Lindros' jersey retirement ceremony will be the Toronto Maple Leafs. As a youngster, the Leafs were the Toronto native's favorite NHL club. Later, Toronto was one of the three teams for whom he played after the Flyers.

"Growing up in Ontario, every Saturday night was a Leafs' game. For Homer [Flyers president Paul Holmgren] to pick the night the Leafs are in town is certainly special. We're excited about it; a bunch of my buddies that are die-hard Maple Leafs fans are texting away and getting organized for flights down to Philly. It's gonna be a fun night and, yeah, it kind of brings both sides together," Lindros said.

Fans can obtain tickets to the game now by purchasing the Orange 11-Game Plan HERE.

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