How the Lindros Trade Helped the Flyers

Posted: September 12, 2011 by Realdeal in Colorado Avalanche, Hall of Fame, Hart Trophy, Olympics, Philadelphia Flyers, Trade
Tags: , , , , , , ,

20 years ago, the Quebec Nordiques drafted star Eric Lindros. He refused to play for the club, leading to him sitting out the 1991-92 season.  Lindros played part of the OHL season with Oshawa and was on Canada’s silver medal winning Olympic hockey team in 1992.

The trade was Flyers 1991 first rounder Peter Forsberg, Ron Hextall, Steve Duchesne, Mike Ricci, Kerry Huffman, Chris Simon, two first round picks (Jocelyn Thibault, Nolan Baumgartner) and $15 million.  At the time, it was an overpayment.  It looks even worse knowing what happened after.  But the Flyers weren’t the only team interested.  The Rangers put together a package of Doug Weight, Tony Amonte, Alexei Kovalev, John Vanbiesbrouck, three first round picks and $12 million.  The Rangers’ package included guys that were key parts, or traded for key parts, of their Stanley Cup run in 1994.  So why would a team who was first in the conference in 1991-92 willing to trade three young future stars, its’ starting goalie, among other assets for Lindros?

Lindros was touted as the “Next One”.  He was going to take the torch from Gretzky, become the next great NHL superstar and lead the league into a new era.  Hindsight showed that Lindros never came close to his potential, thanks mainly to injuries.  But at the time, every hockey fan knew his name.  And remember 1992 was a time before the internet, before fans could read about any prospect.  He was on hockey cards even before he had been drafted, which didn’t happen in those days.  Lindros was that big of a star.

In 1992, the Flyers were struggling.  They missed the playoffs for the third straight year.  Fans were getting restless of the losing.  The team was rebuilding with many of the key players from the 1987 Wales Conference Champions traded away in the last couple years, including Brian Propp, Rick Tocchet and Tim Kerr.  Owner Ed Snider planned to build a new building (which finally opened in 1996) and the team needed a new identity, a new future for the grand opening.  Peter Forsberg could have been that future, but the club was unsure when (or if) the Swede would come to North America.  Again, a different era in hockey when drafting Europeans was still somewhat of a risk (see: Niklas Sundblad).  The team was willing to trade an uncertainty to get the most hyped prospect in hockey.

Hextall and Duchesne only lasted one year in Quebec before being traded again.  Huffman was waived a half year after those two were traded.  Ricci played 5 1/2 years with the franchise and helped the team to the Cup in 1996 as a role player.  Simon had one of his best offensive years in 1996 (16-18-34), but was more known for his numerous suspensions.

Where Quebec won in the trade was Forsberg, obviously, and the 1993 draft pick Jocelyn Thibault.  Thibault was part of “Le Trade” which sent Patrick Roy to Colorado and gave the Avalanche its’ final piece of the Stanley Cup puzzle.

So how did this work out positively for the Flyers?  The team gave up a future Hall of Famer and helped Colorado win multiple Cups.  Well, acquiring Lindros gave Snider his superstar to rebuild the Flyers around and to market the new building.  Lindros was instantly the Flyers best marketing tool.  Additionally, Flyers fans were excited to get the “Next One”.  At a Flyers game you could not go ten feet without seeing #88 on a jersey.  He was an fan favorite from the start with his rare combination of strength and skill.  All of the kids in Philadelphia pretended to be Lindros playing street hockey.

The Flyers made the playoffs in his third year and went to the Cup Finals in his fifth.  Philadelphia was back on the map in the NHL and Lindros was the man who made the Flyers relevant again.  Unfortunately for the fans, it didn’t turn out as well as everyone had hoped.  Even though he never delivered on his promise in 1995 after winning the Hart Trophy, he still had a great career.  Whether he is a Hall of Famer or not, is a debate for another day.  But he brought the hockey passion back to Philadelphia, which is immeasurable.

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Comments
  1. John Russo says:

    That’s one of the things I never really thought about when it comes to Lindros. Being on the back-end of his stint with Philly, I associated Lindros with disappointment and it left a bad taste in my mouth.

    That comes with being a little younger than you as well as most Flyers fans who remember the Lindros buzz.

    So, with that in mind, it really opens up a different page in my perspective of Lindros. Though I’m still bitter he never led the team to a Cup, he did make Flyers hockey a brand in the NHL; a brand I’m very proud to have been a fan of for the past 15+ years.

    • George Coles says:

      i remember listening to wip walking over my friends house the day they were ruling on who would get his rights the flyers or the rangers and jumping up and down screaming when i found out it was philly. he may not have been all that he was hyped to be, but for a short period he was the best player in hockey.

  2. FIVER says:

    I think the LeClair trade really helped Lindros tremendously. He did have a couple great seasons before tailing off the one year before John showed up. This is a player who in the 8 years in Philly scored 40+ goals in half that time while never playing more than 70 (? check that stat Dan) games in a season with Philly.
    He was a big guy with great hands, and talent to boot, but I do remember he would still get knocked around in juniors by smaller guys. The one thing about Eric, for his size he never did quite learn to take a hit considering how big he was. He could hit but when he received a hit it was a different story. Just basing it on memory.
    Tis a shame he was never 100% he would of been a monster player for a lot of years. Would of been funny if the Rags got him, considering all of those players aside from Beezer were instrumental in the cup win one way or another.

  3. Dan MacNeal says:

    I think LeClair opened things up more but he was still dominant with Fedyk and Recchi on his wings. Had 41, 44 goals in the two years before they got LeClair.

    His problem was that he always had to stick up for himself. Never had an enforcer, like Gretz had Semenko. When they finally picked up Antoski to do the job, Antoski thought *he* was the star and couldn’t even do his job right.

    Would the Rags have won at some point? End up losing Kovalev and not getting Matteau and Tikkanen. Nobody will ever know.

    • FIVER says:

      Didn’t his goal total hit the 20’s the year before LeClair? I may be wrong, but I think that caused a little bit of panic in the front office, hence the trade for J.L. I agree about Antoski, selfish player.

      Far as the Rangers, I don’t think they would have won without My-toe, or Tikkanen, I think Anderson was a much bigger piece than what he was given credit for. But if they would of had Amonte and not traded him, that would of been something to watch, Weight-Amonte-Kovalev wow what a line.

  4. […] As Lindros was my favorite player growing up, I have plenty of great memories from his days as a Flyer.  Even though I saw Lindros’ first hattrick (a 7-2 win over Ottawa in 1992), my favorite moment/game was seeing the Legion of Doom score 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists) in an 8-4 win over Montreal in 1995. Lindros had a hattrick in that game as well.  He was the most hyped player in the early ’90s and rejuvenated the Flyers franchise. […]

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