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Lindblom cancer diagnosis 'bigger than hockey' for Flyers teammates

Have forward on mind after 23-year-old likely out for season

by Jessi Pierce / Independent Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Oskar Lindblom's jersey and nameplate remained in place in the visitors dressing room when the Philadelphia Flyers played the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday.

Lindblom on Wednesday was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, and is not expected to play again this season.

"He's still part of the team," Flyers forward Sean Couturier said. "It's tough. It's sad news, but I think if he was here, he would want us to battle hard and win some hockey games. That's all we can do, and come together and support and do what we do [and] play hockey and do it in his honor, I guess."

The Flyers issued a statement with the news Friday. Coach Alain Vigneault on Saturday refrained from commenting much beyond that statement, saying, "There's no doubt everybody has support, but at this time, from my end, I've got to limit it to what management and ownership said yesterday."

Players were informed of Lindblom's diagnosis Wednesday before a 3-1 loss at the Colorado Avalanche. Defenseman Robert Hagg, who has known Lindblom since Hagg was 16, was with the 23-year-old when he received the news.

"It was hard to see," Hagg, 24, said. "It's hard. I don't know how to react or what to say or anything like that. At the same time, you have to keep moving forward I guess. He would love to play the game and he would love to be on the ice if he could."

Lindblom, who was selected by the Flyers in the fifth round (No. 138) of the 2014 NHL Draft, had 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) in 30 games this season. He was tied with forward Travis Konecny for the Philadelphia lead in goals.

Minnesota defeated Philadelphia 4-1.

"This is much bigger than hockey," Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk said. "This is about someone's life. We're there to support him through this whole process. He's a big part of our group here, and he's going to remain a big part of that, and we want him to feel a part of this.

"This is more in the realm of just life and that stuff, but hockey is a big part of his life. He's going to be that guy we're going to miss on the ice and miss having him around. ... There is that other side of it too, that certainly makes it tough to concentrate on [hockey] when you have a good friend going through something like this.

"We want to make him proud with our play. He's a big part of everything we do here, and he's going to remain part of that going forward."

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