Cross Checks: Eric Lindros



PHILADELPHIA -- He was just about to leave Citizens Bank Park on Friday en route to the Flyers’ practice facility in Voorhees, N.J., when I grabbed Eric Lindros for one quick second.

I had been curious about one thing: Since the news came out in October that Lindros was invited to play for the Flyers in the Winter Classic alumni game, had Lindros spoken at all with Bobby Clarke?

"No," Lindros told ESPN.com, before adding with a smile, "but it’s off to practice now."

At that practice, Lindros and Clarke would, in fact, finally speak.

"Sure, we talked," Clarke told ESPN.com via cell phone Friday evening. "It was fine. I asked him how his brother was doing. He asked me about my family. We’re fine. There’s really no animosity."

So there, Kumbaya in the City of Brotherly Love, OK?

Not ever before has an alumni game carried this much buzz, nor will one ever again in all likelihood. But the reunion of the Big E and Bobby on the same ice surface in front of 40,000-plus fans on New Year’s Eve is about as good as it gets in this town.

When Lindros arrived at the ballpark on Friday afternoon, he was soon swarmed by a large media scrum on the field. After finishing with questions, cameras followed his every step across the field as he headed towards the makeshift ice rink that will host Monday’s real NHL game.

Make no mistake about it, despite all the bad blood and the ugly exit, Lindros remains a huge star in this town. When he stepped on the ice at practice on Friday, he was cheered loudly by the fans on hand.

"It’s very nice to see Eric here, he’s a huge part of Philadelphia Flyers history with everything he did on the ice, the way he carried himself -- he was a hard-nosed player and showed up every night," former Flyers teammate Shjohn Podein told ESPN.com at Citizens Bank Park on Friday. "To have him welcomed back and embraced like this by the fans will be nice to see."

Lindros was guarded in his answers Friday, and, during previous interviews over the last month, he’s also kept his comments largely to a minimum when it came to rehashing his past battles with Clarke.

In an email to ESPN.com on Oct. 27, Lindros dealt with the subject with more detail and said it was the last time he wanted to go into it to that degree. Lindros' email was spurred by Clarke’s comments to ESPN.com the same day in which he expressed the desire to move on, that he felt Lindros deserved to be invited to the Winter Classic alumni game because he played great hockey for the team. But the former Flyers general manager added that, to this day, he still has issue with the interference he felt Lindros’ parents had on the player’s career in Philly.

Responded Lindros that day to ESPN.com:

"I've been excited since I received a phone call from Paul Holmgren inviting me to represent the Flyers and Flyer fans at the alumni game of the Winter Classic weekend," he said. "Old friends from Philly have been blowing up my phone ever since word got out. I can't wait to get back there, see them and play for the fans again. Looks to be a great event. It was very nice of Bob to say some of the things he has said, and I too look forward to catching up with him.

"While a great deal of time has passed, my beliefs on the subject of my representation have not. I had great representatives looking out for my best interests and safety. They just happened to be my parents. In the past, I have not found it worth my time to discuss and publicize much of what went on. Maybe I should have. Maybe that was a mistake. But I still, to this day, don't see the point. With that said, everyone is welcome to their opinion. Reading what Bob said and knowing him, well, that's just Bob's way.

"Time to move on with more important things. I am so excited to be heading back to Philly in January and more than likely before that. It’s going to be a great weekend. I will not have played in a game this big for almost five [years]. Pumped!"


Just an alumni game on Saturday? Don’t think so.

-- Pierre LeBrun

Philadelphia buzzing about Classic

Jim Watson has his name on two Stanley Cups -- the two won by the Philadelphia Flyers in the mid-1970s. They represent the sum total of championships won by the franchise. Watson, 59, has remained in the Philadelphia area and remained close to the game, establishing a twin-pad hockey rink in Delaware County 15 years ago. The demand was so great for ice that he and his partners doubled up with two more pads, which run nonstop throughout the year.

"Being there at the rink, we’ve got a big tournament going on there right now with about 100 teams, that’s all anybody’s talking about is the Winter Classic. 'Jim, you playing, I’m coming down, can you get me tickets?' But they’re so excited about it," Watson said.

"It’s given hockey a great boost in the city of Philadelphia and the surrounding areas but also in general nationally."

And yes, Watson, who took part in five NHL All-Star Games and played in the 1976 Canada Cup, will be taking part in the sold-out alumni game along with his brother Joe, with whom he won those championships.

"I’m a late addition," he said with a laugh. "They want a rushing defenseman. They called me up and they said, 'Somebody’s got to bail out Joe so you’ve got to be there to help him.' "

--Scott Burnside

Lindros, Clarke hope to move on

October, 27, 2011
10/27/11
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Well we know Eric Lindros will play in the Winter Classic alumni game, but what about Wayne Gretzky?

The Great One told ESPN.com via text that he doesn’t think that will be the case.
[+] EnlargeWayne Gretzky
Stan Badz/Getty ImagesTo the chagrin of the fans, there's a better chance Wayne Gretzky will be swinging golf clubs than participating in the Winter Classic alumni game.

“No, I’ll be with my family for the holidays,’’ Gretzky said. “Plus, they don’t need to see a 50-year-old slow guy out there!’’

We beg to disagree on that one. No. 99’s appearance would be hugely popular with the fans Dec. 31 in the alumni game.

Now we’ll see how much lobbying comes from the New York Rangers. Surely, Gretzky’s old pal, Mark Messier, would try to entice him. Stay tuned.

Clarke, Lindros together again

Bob Clarke and Eric Lindros on the same ice? Who would have ever thought it, right?

Well that’s the plan right now for Dec. 31 in the Rangers-Flyers Winter Classic alumni game.

Lindros shared with ESPN.com on Wednesday his excitement at playing in the game and how happy he was that Flyers GM Paul Holmgren reached out to him.

We reached Clarke on Thursday and asked the former Flyers GM and star player about sharing the ice with Lindros.

“It’s no big deal to me,’’ Clarke told ESPN.com. “Not at all. Lindros was an MVP; he helped our club. That part I like. I didn’t like the parents involved; I didn’t like what they did, and once it started hurting our club, then I was offended by it. But as far as Eric playing hockey for us, he played hard for us and he played good for us. He deserves to be out there.’’

It may just be that enough time has passed for everyone involved to heal those wounds from what was a bitter divorce more than a decade ago.

“I hope so for his sake,’’ Clarke said of Lindros. “Because he left with so much bitterness and so much anger. And I guess I did, too. I was bitter and angry, too. But once he was gone, I moved on, I didn’t care after that. Let’s hope we’re all mature enough now, enough time has passed and everything has healed.’’

In an email to ESPN.com, Eric Lindros responded: "I've been excited since I received a phone call from Paul Holmgren inviting me to represent the Flyers and Flyer fans at the Alumni Game of the Winter Classic Weekend,” he said. “Old friends from Philly have been blowing up my phone ever since word got out. I can't wait to get back there, see them and play for the fans again. Looks to be a great event. It was very nice of Bob to say some of the things he has said, and I too look forward to catching up with him.

While a great deal of time has passed, my beliefs on the subject of my representation have not. I had great representatives looking out for my best interests and safety. They just happened to be my parents. In the past, I have not found it worth my time to discuss and publicize much of what went on. Maybe I should have. Maybe that was a mistake. But I still, to this day, don't see the point. With that said, everyone is welcome to their opinion. Reading what Bob said and knowing him, well, that's just Bob's way.

Time to move on with more important things. I am so excited to be heading back to Philly in January and more than likely before that. It’s going to be a great weekend. I will not have played in a game this big for almost 5 [years]. Pumped!"

Holmgren told ESPN.com on Wednesday that his plan was to reunite the famous LCB line of Reggie Leach, Bobby Clarke and Bill Barber.

“I guess just the three of us together again will be kind of neat,’’ Clarke said Thursday.

Clarke sounded a bit hesitant, and we asked him why.

“I don’t think nervous is the right word, but you hope the people don’t have high expectations, because even the younger guys [former Flyers] are old now, too,’’ Clarke said.

“But I guess the biggest thing will be the festivities. It certainly won’t be the [alumni] game.’’

Clarke has been skating the last few weeks.

“Not so much because of the [alumni] game, but it’s more for exercise because I’m getting fat,’’ laughed Clarke.

Bruins trade talks

The Stanley Cup champions are off to a so-so start, and their GM isn’t sitting on his hands.

Peter Chiarelli always has been an active force on the trade market, and that hasn’t changed early this season, especially with his team struggling somewhat out of the gates.

“I’m always working the phones, but I am a little more diligent these days,’’ Chiarelli told ESPN.com on Thursday.

Although Chiarelli wouldn’t say what specifically he was looking for, our guess is that it’s a forward to inject a little more life in his sputtering offense (ranked 20th in league before Thursday’s games).

And know this: Chiarelli isn’t limited by the cap this time around. He’s managed it so well in the past year that he has $3 million plus of cap room, and that’s with Marc Savard ($4 million) still counting against it. The point being that the Bruins can take on a bigger salary if they wish.

Eric Lindros, Flyers together again

October, 26, 2011
10/26/11
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TORONTO -- The Big E is once again in a Flyers uniform.

What do they say about time heals all things?

Not sure too many people ever thought Eric Lindros would wear that jersey again one day given his drawn-out divorce from the franchise more than a decade ago.
[+] EnlargeEric Lindros
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesEric Lindros will don a Flyers jersey for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

But he will indeed be donning the Philadelphia hockey jersey, a story that was first broken by Justin Johnson of The Hockey Writers on Oct. 17, come New Year’s Eve in the Winter Classic alumni game.

It goes to show that as time goes on, people tend to focus on the good things.

“Absolutely,” Lindros told ESPN.com Wednesday. “I was very happy to receive a phone call from Paul Holmgren, who invited me down to play. I said I would love to.”

Which, from Holmgren’s perspective, was a no-brainer.

“Eric had a tremendous career for the Flyers,” the Flyers' GM told ESPN.com Wednesday. “All the guys we’ve called to come back and play and have all been excited for the opportunity. We’re going to try to make it a great event. I’m looking forward to seeing Eric and a lot of these other guys. It’s going to be nice.”

Hearing the roar of the Philly crowd again as the former Flyers players hit the outdoor ice Dec. 31 at 1 p.m. ET will also be a renewed thrill for Lindros.

“The fans in Philly are great,” Lindros said. “They’re real supportive; they know the game and they’re passionate about it. … I played in four cities. Toronto is obviously right up there in terms of intensity, but Philly is there, too. That’s a great sports town.”

Which will be on display again come Winter Classic week with the NHL game, the alumni game and the AHL game all outdoors.

“The Flyers always do it up right,” Holmgren said. “There’s three games that the fans can come and watch. I think it’s going to be great.”

Lindros, meanwhile, is trying to get the band back together. His hope is that the Legion of Doom line will once again skate together in the Winter Classic alumni game.

John LeClair is in, but so far Lindros hasn’t been able to track down Mikael Renberg.

“People are having a tough time getting ahold of him,” said Lindros, chuckling.

We have ESPN.com readers in Sweden, so there’s always the chance someone in Sweden might see this blog.

“Good, tell him to call me!” quipped Lindros.

Renberg does hockey commentary for Swedish state television SVT, and he’s apparently also in school. He’s a busy man.

“I did finally talk to Renberg, but I also had a hard time getting ahold of him,” said Holmgren. “Mikael is in school. I think he’s trying to get a degree in physical therapy, and he’s also doing some Swedish TV during the world juniors.”

The world juniors are in Edmonton and Calgary in 2012, and Renberg is hoping to fly to Philly for the alumni game Dec. 31, but Holmgren still has not heard back.

So whether the Legion of Doom is reunited remains a question mark.

“That’s the plan, though: to have Eric’s line back together, as well as Clarkey’s line with [Reggie] Leach and [Bill] Barber and other famous lines in Flyers history,” said Holmgren.

Lindros, meanwhile, has found life after hockey. The former NHLPA executive is involved with an educational tech company called ClevrU based out of Waterloo, Ontario.

“We have an intelligent mobile learning platform,” Lindros said of ClevrU. “Our platform is different than anything out there.”

Lindros said there is a test pilot going up in China and plans are to have one in Taiwan, as well.

“Once things get rolling, we’d like to get content to people in various countries that couldn’t otherwise afford it,” said Lindros.

But he’s still playing hockey, of course, skating twice a week, which doubles as preparation for the alumni game.

“We’re doing our best to shake the cobwebs off,” said Lindros.

“It should be a good time.”

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