Sunday, September 02, 2007

The NHLPA meetings
Eric Lindros: The Big E's new battle

I'll be absolutely stunned if Eric Lindros ever plays another game in the NHL.

Maybe that's no revelation given the retirement rumours we've heard all summer, the news that Lindros had become an integral part of reshaping the union and really hadn't put much thought into the next step for his playing career. When prodded about it by a Sportsnet reporter on Friday, Lindros said his 'next role' would be playing with media types Nick Kypreos and Daren Millard — a reference to a local media team based here in Toronto.

Lindros made an effort to not let his own status overshadow what he really wanted to talk about, and it's clear from his comments that he has become an integral part of the PA restructuring. He's one of the key contributers on a group that is reworking the union constitution (a motley crew that includes Andrew Peters, Matt Stajan, Craig Adams and Chris Chelios) and had several comments about how the power structure would be reworked.

"In the past, there’s been a lot of mistakes made," he told the media throng. "I don’t think this is about finger-pointing; I think it’s about identifying mistakes in procedure, identifying loyalty, identifying some of the mistrust, but it’s about learning from our mistakes, learning from how things happen so quickly.

"It’s not rocket science; it’s about being honest and being clear with what your intentions are.

"We’re looking at having field reps, one for every division, [someone] that is going to look at reaching out to the younger players, if there’s a problem, informing the guys, taking them out for dinner, being around, if anything occurs, any issues. Anything from a second opinion — just to sit down and talk to if anything’s going on — I think they’d be helpful. We’re looking at separating the executive director from the general consul — there’s too much power at one position.

"Some people handle it differently [than Bob did], let’s just leave it at that."

The field rep idea is something that sounds like nearly a done deal, and that's a role I could see Lindros fitting in to, at least to start. He indicated the constitutional committee is "95-per-cent done" in putting together its recommendations, something that has seen the document expanded from about a page and a half to somewhere in the neighbourhood of 15 or 16.

This was the first time I'd had a chance to speak to and hear Lindros in person, and for such an enormous man, he's quite soft spoken. His upper lip and chin were a latticework of scars, but other than that, you'd never know he was a professional athlete.

It's really remarkable just how sharply Lindros's on-ice career declined: After winning the Hart Trophy at age 22, he was only a dominant player for the next three or four partial seasons before Scott Stevens's now legendary hit in 2000 kept him out for an entire season. Since that point, he's been a peripheral player, still effective in spurts but nowhere near the imposing physical specimen he entered the league as.

Lindros has played just 121 games since April, 2003, scoring 26 goals in a little more than four years since then. That he still has Hall of Fame calibre numbers — early in his career, he was ranked fourth for career points-per-game average — speaks to just how incredible a talent he was coming into the league as a 19-year-old in 1992-93.

It's nice to see he's found a home with the PA.

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At 1:33 a.m., September 03, 2007, Anonymous Alec said...

I have always thought that Lindros could be more than a serviceable player if he stopped playing like Eric Lindros and started playing more like Tim Kerr or Dave Andreychuk.

The trailing forward, not lugging the puck into the zone, occasionally going into the corners but usually just camping out in the high slot, setting screens and using his size and quick hands to score a ton of garbage goals.

At 10:32 a.m., September 03, 2007, Blogger Doogie said...

A lot of Quebecers will never forgive Lindros for stiffing the Nords, but even so, you've got to feel for the guy. He's kind of like Cam Neely, in that he started out as a dominant power forward, but because of the way he played, he incurred so many injuries (from both legitimate and dirty plays) that eventually he just couldn't do it anymore. He's held on a lot longer than Neely did -- in hindsight, he should have retired in 2003 -- but otherwise, their career arcs are similar in a lot of ways.

I wonder whether he'll qualify for the HoF one day on the Neely injury exemption. As you've noted, his numbers before 2000 were fantastic (1.36 PPG, even higher if you toss 1999-2000 which was "only" 59 points in 55 games), but are dragged down considerably by the seasons thereafter (two seasons, he still manages approximately 1 PPG, but the other three are around the 0.6 PPG mark), far more so than Neely's numbers were. It's certainly worth debating, anyway.

At 9:25 a.m., September 04, 2007, Blogger Chemmy said...

Quebecers should have been thankful for Lindros snubbing them. Lindros for Forsberg, cash and draft picks is the best thing that ever happened to the Nordiques.

Too bad about them moving though. :\


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