Lindros returns to Philly to celebrate city's fans
PHILADELPHIA --Eric Lindros will be teammates with another Flyers legend in Bob Clarke, during Saturday's Molson Canadian 2012 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game (3 p.m. ET, Versus). That's a storyline that the media will no doubt explore, but Lindros is focused on Philadelphia's fans and the lure of skating on outdoor ice.
Lindros is keenly aware his presence this weekend at Citizens Bank Park will raise questions about his testy history with Clarke, plus draw inquiries about hits to the head provided that Flyers Chris Pronger will not be in the lineup for Monday's 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic due to a concussion.
Lindros told NHL.com Friday morning that he didn't agree to join the festivities this weekend as a way to mend fences with Clarke, who as the Flyers GM in the 1990s feuded with the Lindros family, stripped Lindros of the team's captaincy, and eventually traded him to the Rangers after a season-long contract dispute.
And, Lindros is also not here to be a spokesperson for how to reduce concussions in the NHL, though he does have ideas that he's willing to share if asked.
"This week is about a celebration of hockey," Lindros said. "This is about getting back to grass roots, playing outside, playing in front of fans of both the Rangers and Flyers. That's the biggest thing."
The celebration is what has Lindros most excited about the entire event. He wanted to be here to both reconnect with old friends and teammates, as well as get the opportunity to play one more time in front of the passionate fans that he respects so much.
Lindros is thankful that Flyers GM Paul Holmgren reached out to him in August and asked him to play in the alumni game.
"They truly are a passionate group of people that follow the Flyers and support the Flyers," Lindros said.
Lindros, who wasn't due to land in Philadelphia until after 1 p.m. ET Friday, said his feelings toward being in Philadelphia this weekend won't change when he sees Clarke. The two certainly have a history of feuding and Lindros said his opinions haven't changed, but he's willing to put it all aside in order to properly celebrate the Winter Classic.
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"I'm not going to look back at the past," Lindros said. "I certainly have my views and thoughts and Bob obviously has his; but whatever. We're going to go out and play for the Philly people. I'm not focused on anything but the positive stuff that will come out of the weekend."
Lindros said of the many positives, and certainly this is one for the Philly fans as well, is getting the chance to skate again with Legion of Doom linemate John Leclair. Lindros is upset that the third guy on the line, Mikael Renberg, can't be here to join them, but he understands why.
"It would have been great to see Mikael and to get on the ice with him again, but Mikael is doing great things," Lindros said. "He's a broadcaster for the Swedish broadcast team that is covering the World Juniors and that's a big deal, so it's nice to see him involved with that. He's also back in school and studying to become a physical therapist. Knowing his personality, that's perfect for him."
Lindros' personality is still very much hockey-centric. He lives in downtown Toronto and said he "religiously plays twice a week," including the occasional Sunday morning outdoor pickup game near the shores of Lake Ontario.
"Nothing is quite as fast and accurate as it used to be, but the love of the game is still there," Lindros said. "I really do love playing hockey. It's a great game. Everything in the world seems to disappear for the hour and a half when you go out and play."
The same thing may happen to him Saturday even though there will be 40,000-plus people watching and wondering if he'll get on a line with Clarke and perhaps even set the old legend up for a goal.
Lindros seems willing to do it if it'll make the Philadelphia fans cheer.
"I've been very clear about how I feel about the weekend in terms of anything other than the game itself or the weekend itself," Lindros said. "What's the point in looking back? I don't see it. People are going to have opinions. I certainly have mine and I don't need to air it. It is what it is, it happened in the past and I'm looking forward to the future."