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LeClair: Lindros finally where he belongs

Former 'Legion of Doom' linemate John LeClair says Eric Lindros earned place in Hockey Hall of Fame

by John LeClair / Special to NHL.com

Left wing John LeClair played with center Eric Lindros at the height of Lindros' career, helping him win the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player in 1995 and lead the Philadelphia Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in 1997. LeClair, Lindros and right wing Mikael Renberg formed the "Legion of Doom" line, using their size and skill to terrorize opponents and score. Here LeClair shares his thoughts on Lindros, who will go into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday, in a special testimonial for NHL.com:

When you mention a name for the Hockey Hall of Fame, if you have to stop and think about it, then there's doubt. Usually he's not a Hall of Famer. When you mention Eric's name, there's no hesitation. He's a Hall of Famer, no doubt. 

I don't think anybody dominated as much as he did at his best. He completely dominated every aspect of the game. He was an unstoppable force. 

It was Feb. 9, 1995, when the Montreal Canadiens traded me to Philadelphia. I got a call from Flyers general manager Bobby Clarke, and he mentioned that he envisioned me playing on Eric's line. I didn't know Eric that well. I had met him briefly once. But I couldn't get to Philly fast enough to play with someone like that. Coach Terry Murray put me with Eric and Mikael; we had great chemistry right away and things just kind of took off from there. 

First of all, Eric had a drive I hadn't seen before. He always wanted to get better. He always expected more out of himself and everyone else. In practice, if you failed on a scoring chance, he wouldn't be afraid to come up and say, "You've got to score that." And he was serious. I know it helped me a lot, and I think it helped our line develop a lot better and play hard. We practiced hard. 

To go along with that, he had every tool. He could beat you in many ways. He skill level was off the charts, and physically he was bigger and stronger than most at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds. There were guys comparable to him, but he still did it at a higher level than everybody else. 

He changed the way teams played against the Flyers. Their first thought was: "How am I going to play against Eric tonight? How am I going to stop him?" It mentally affected teams before the puck even dropped. He was their main focus. They would try to match their top checking line and top defensive pair against him. Eric had a temper because he was so competitive, so they'd try different things. It was a constant chess match to try to see if they could get Eric off his game, which ended with poor results.  

That's just a tribute to how great he was. He saw everybody's best, and he still dominated. They never slowed him down. His attitude was, "Bring your best, and let me go." And he won almost every night. 

Video: Flyers Hat Trick: Lindros 12/9/1999

Off the ice, he was a pretty relaxed guy for the most part. He was easy to get along with and good company. I found him to be a really good teammate, well-liked. You wouldn't know he was a superstar. He was in there joking with everybody else, just one of the guys in the locker room. The outside stuff, the controversies; truthfully, the guys didn't get that involved with it.

Obviously, injuries hampered him. He was still at the top of his game when he suffered a series of concussions, and he had to retire too early at age 33 with only 760 regular-season games played in the NHL. There's no reason to believe he wouldn't have continued to dominate for many years to come. Knowing his desire to play, the way he prepared himself, it would have continued, no question, and it's unfortunate. 

But I think the best thing now is, it's about what he did. He deserves what he got. He should be a Hall of Famer. He waited for six years even though I believe he should have gotten in right away, but all that is in the past. The Big E is where he belongs, in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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