Eric Lindros and John LeClair always were together on the ice during their time with the Philadelphia Flyers, so it makes sense that when they are inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame on Thursday they will be honored together.
The pair combined, along with Mikael Renberg, to create the "Legion of Doom" line that helped the Flyers reach the Eastern Conference Final in 1995 and the Stanley Cup Final in 1997.
"[Flyers president] Paul Holmgren gave me a shout, gave Johnny a shout, in September," Lindros said. "Right away we were both deeply honored to get the call and then we started talking a little bit further and we decided to do it together, which was appropriate. Here we are and we're looking forward to Thursday night."
Lindros spent eight seasons in Philadelphia and is fifth on the Flyers all-time scoring list with 659 points in 486 games. LeClair, who spent 10 seasons in Philadelphia, is fifth in Flyers history with 333 goals.
Eric Lindros and John Leclair were always
together on the ice and will be inducted into the
Flyers Hall of Fame together. (Click to enlarge)
Courtesy: Getty Images
When the 1994-95 season started Lindros already was considered one of the best players in the NHL, but Bob Clarke, in his first season back as Flyers general manager, thought Lindros needed assistance up front.
"Lindros was going against the biggest players from the other teams, and he needed help," Clarke said in a June 1995 interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer. "His line had to have more size."
Clarke found that size in LeClair, who was acquired from the Montreal Canadiens in February 1995. LeClair had played a major role in the Canadiens winning the Stanley Cup in 1993 but was in and out of the lineup when the Flyers got him.
Lindros only knew LeClair as an opponent, but said the duo quickly found a comfort zone together.
"As soon as that first practice things seemed to really roll," Lindros said. "We had a great deal of fun, we worked hard. We wanted to score in practice as much as we could. We put a big emphasis on finishing our chances. … The bottom line was if it was a line rush that we not only didn't just get a shot but it went in. We worked hard at that. I think it paid off in the end and through the games."
The line of Lindros (6-foot-4, 240 pounds), LeClair (6-3, 226) and Renberg (6-2, 215) proved too much for most teams to handle. In their first season together Lindros tied Jaromir Jagr for the League scoring title with 70 points in 46 games and won the Hart Trophy, and in 1995-96 he set career highs with 47 goals and 115 points.
LeClair had 51 goals in 1995-96, the first of three consecutive 50-goal seasons.
"That trade changed the whole atmosphere and confidence level of our entire organization," Clarke said in a 2005 interview on the Flyers website. "… We had no idea that LeClair was going to be that good. But that deal turned out pretty good."
LeClair readily admits playing with Lindros allowed him to become a top goal-scorer and is a big reason why he's going to be honored Thursday.
"Eric has been such a big part of my career," LeClair said. "To have him right next to me … obviously with what he's done to help me get to this point, to have him standing next to me is a thrill."
The Legion of Doom run ended when Renberg was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in August 1997, and then Lindros was traded to the New York Rangers in 2001, ending what had been at times an acrimonious relationship with Flyers management.
Things began to change in 2012 when Lindros accepted an invitation to play for the Flyers at the 2012 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic alumni game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. He also appeared on the field before the day of the NHL Winter Classic and received one of the louder ovations from the fans both days.
"Much of what occurred was so long ago; we're looking at 14, almost 15 years now," Lindros said. "It was a real honor to be invited back to that outdoor game. I had a great time at it. It was great to catch up with some of the guys that I played with and see some of the alumni."
He said he expects another warm reaction when he and LeClair are honored prior to the Flyers game Thursday against the Minnesota Wild.
"I'm greatly honored," he said. "Philadelphia is where I played my best hockey as a pro. Really enjoyed it. There are countless moments that I recall and have extremely fond memories of. It was a great environment to play in. … I think it'll be a great time. Lots of friends to catch up with. Fans of Philadelphia are extremely passionate. There's very few like them in the world. They get it. They want their teams to do well. I'm sure that Thursday night will be an example of that. Just proud to be back in that rink."
Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK