Eric Lindros’ career did not come with a storybook ending.
Concussions and injuries authored the final chapter of his playing days.
But on Monday afternoon, No. 88 “got his day,” as Ron Hextall put it.
In many ways, this was Lindros’ storybook finish.
“I haven’t stopped smiling,” Lindros said.
Lindros on Monday was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the 2016 class (see story).
A rare breed of size and skill, Lindros quickly became an NHL star with the Flyers and now finishes as one.
“It kind of feels full circle if you can understand that," Lindros said, via conference call.
That feeling especially resonates when he laces 'em up at 43 years old.
"I play hockey a couple times a week just to try to fit in the jeans, and to have this honor right here at the end of things when my game is certainly on the downslope," Lindros said with a laugh, "it’s a great feeling, a great honor and I’m super happy.”
Sergei Makarov, Rogie Vachon and Pat Quinn join Lindros as the 2016 group.
“I would like to thank the selection committee, things are just starting to sink in and I’m certainly honored to be a part of this class,” Lindros said. “Congratulations to Rogie, Sergei and Pat Quinn’s family. It’s a real special honor.”
Lindros, an owner of 372 career goals, 493 assists and 865 points, won the 1994-95 Hart Memorial Trophy, joining Bobby Clarke as the only Flyers players to ever take home the MVP award.
Ironically, Lindros and Clarke clashed as player and general manager, respectively.
It led to a breakup on not-so-good terms.
“When it’s all said and done, everyone wanted to win,” Lindros said. “That was the main focus.”
The past is now the past for both. Clarke pushed for Lindros’ Hall of Fame bid and the latter was grateful.
“Certainly there were some times of friction,” Lindros said, “but to have Bob’s voice in support, next to so many, I’ve got to thank them.”
Flyers GM Hextall played with Lindros and saw the uniqueness firsthand.
“It was terrific being on his team,” Hextall said. “The package of skill and size and aggressiveness, he’s got a big shot. I think at the time, he was the hardest guy in the league to defend.”
Team president Paul Holmgren said you don’t see many like Lindros, still to this day.
“Eric had a shortened career due to injuries but the impact he had on the game was phenomenal,” Holmgren said. “We are all still looking for 6-5, 245-pound guys who can skate and play a skilled and physical game like Eric could.
“This is great news for the Flyers organization and great news for Eric Lindros and his family. I’m very happy for him.”
Hextall admitted he still wonders what would have been if Lindros stayed healthy to close his career.
“He probably was in [the Hall of Fame] a couple years ago, right, if he didn’t have the injuries,” Hextall said. “Injuries happen but I can say this, when Eric played with us, he was clearly one of the most dominant players in the league at the time and probably one of the most dominant ever.”
And it all came full circle.
Lindros got his day.