The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday- October 5, 1992 - Page 3
Flyer forward Eric Lindros talks
about his pending NHL season
tiam n Jr. ii vi WJl
The most highly-touted hockey
player to come out of juniors since
Mario Lemieux was drafted in 1984,
Eric Lindros is possibly the most
controversial player since the
Hanson Brothers. He has definitely
been the most talked-about player
over the past year and a half. First,
one should know the facts:
Eric Lindros played junior B
hockey in 1989 for Compuware's
After being drafted by the junior
A Soo Greyhounds in the 1990
Ontario Hockey League (OHL) entry
draft, he refused to play in the Soo
and contemplated a college career
at Michigan. The OHL subsequently
changed a rule which prohibited its
teams from trading their first-round
draft choices prior to those players'
having begun their OHL careers.
The Greyhounds traded Lindros to
the Oshawa Generals and he helped
the Generals win the Memorial Cup
In the 1991 National Hockey
League entry draft, the Quebec
Nordiques drafted Lindros first
overall. He again refused to play for
an organization which had drafted
him and sat out the entire NHL sea-
son. While sitting out, Lindros
played for Team Canada in the 1991
Canada Cup and the 1992 Olympic
Games in Albertville, France.
On NHL draft day 1992, the
Quebec Nordiques traded Lindros'
rights to the Philadelphia Flyers and
also to the New York Rangers. Ten
days later, arbitrator Larry Bertuzzi
awarded those rights to the
'1 mean 1 am not the
most skilled player in
the world. I don't
skate as fast as a lot
of players. I don't
finesse the puck as
well as a lot of players.
I don't shoot as well as
a lot of players. I just
Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for
five players, one first-round draft
choice and $15 million.
Shortly thereafter, Lindros signed
the highest-paying contract in the
NHL at $3.5 million per season,
including a $3 million signing
bonus, over six years.
Few knowledgeable hockey
minds would dispute the talent and
potential of Lindros. He is listed at
6-foot-5, 225 pounds. He can hit,
skate and put the biscuit in the oven.
Tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. on
ESPN, Lindros will finally make his
Daily Hockey Writer Brett
Forrest spoke with the Flyer phenom
recently in suburban Philadelphia.
Daily: How serious were you
about attending Michigan?
Lindros: If I wasn't traded in ju-
nior, I probably would have ended
up at Michigan. But with the situa-
tion I was in, I thought junior was
the best way for me because I was
going to be in and out of junior. I
think it's slanted more towards pro,
where college sets academics first
and hockey second - which is
great. It just was not what I was
D: Now that the trade has been
finalized and you are a member of
the Flyers, what are your feelings for
the management of the Quebec
Nordiques and the team in general?
L: I don't have any problem with
any of the players or anyone who
works for the team, except for the
management and the owner. I mean
he (Quebec President and part-owner
Marcel Aubut) sat there and told me
I would sign for $280,000 a year and
love it. "You're going to be my
property" sort of thing. I just didn't
want to be part of somebody who
treated me like a sheep.
D: How anxious are you to fi-
nally get on the ice for your first
L: I can't really describe it, it's
unreal. It's been such a long time to
get it going. Finally it's here, finally
I am getting to know the city a little
bit, getting to know the roads.
It feels good to be a part of some-
thing. We are pretty excited about
this next year. I'm excited. I don't
think anyone is expecting miracles.
They're just expecting hard work
and I think that's what we are going
to give them.
D: How valuable were your
hockey experiences during last sea-
son, when you refused to play for the
L: Well, I went to the Olympics
and I went to the Canada Cup. I
think the Canada Cup was the best
possible thing that ever happened to
me. I truly believe that.
You get in there and get to learn
from a guy like Mark Messier. You
get to learn the total game from a
player like him. There were some
great players there, but Mark
Messier was the focal point of the
whole thing for me. I really enjoyed
the way he played.
D: Do you pattern your game af-
ter anyone in particular?
when you make a big trade like the
one I was involved in. It took out a
lot of players, a lot of the nucleus of
the team, but still left us a lot. We're
going to have two, three great lines.
There are guys here like (Rod)
Brind'amour, (Mark) Recchi and
(Kevjn) Dineen. I mean we're OK.
D: What were your feelings to-
ward the public and the media when
you and your family were being
portrayed as villains for not signing
L: Everything you hear on the ra-
dio or read in the press or hear in a
documentary is one person's point of
view. What you write as a reporter is
your own point of view. Some peo-
ple agreed with what I was doing,
some people disagreed. I felt that the
people who agreed did not vocalize
it as much as the people who dis-
agreed with what I did, and therefore
it was blown out of proportion.
I also think we were involved in a
media bombardment from Quebec. I
think they set up a system to really
shock us and to run us through the
mill for a little while.
I spent $50,000 on media rela-
tions last year. I had to do it and I
ended up coming out in great shape.
People understood, totally, what a
weird and unethical businessman
this guy (Aubut) is and we got away
from it totally.
D: Do you feel uncomfortable
being 19 years old, never having
played in one NHL game and
making more money, per season,
than any hockey player ever has?
L : It's called entertainment.
Hockey is entertainment. I'm not
going to do the same things offen-
sively as Wayne Gretzky does be-
cause I am not built like Wayne
Gretzky and I don't have the same
tools. I am not going to be as good a
skater as Paul Coffey because I am
just not as good a skater.
But I will bring excitement in my
own way. I'll go out and I'll hit and
I'll bump and grind. I'm just, like, a
plug player. I just do what I can to
get by and try and make other people
on the team feel well so that they
improve. I think this season our team
is really going to come together. I
think we're really going to come to-
gether and have some fun.
Magic returns to
where he belongs
The money might have had something to do with it. Almost $15
million for a season he probably won't even play. Further proof, I
suppose, that he is one of the most successful businessmen around.
But this isn't just about money. It is about a game, and the
tremendous joy that one man brings to it and takes from it. The Magic
is back, both literally and figuratively.
I remember walking through the halls of Jenison Fieldhouse in East
Lansing one day a couple of years ago. Michigan State doesn't play
there anymore, though students play pickup games from time to time.
But a man that many call the greatest basketball player ever has been
there - running, sweating, driving the lane and flipping the ball with a
turn of the head and a twitch of the wrist.
And his jersey is on the wall, tucked away behind a thin pane of
glass - a quiet whisper to let us know that the Magical road passed
through this place. Somewhere between the high school gymnasium at
Lansing Everett and the Great Western Forum in Inglewood.
Looking at that jersey you can't help but realize that not far from
where you stand is the driveway where little Earvin Johnson used to
shovel away a patch of snow so he could practice late into the night.
The driveway where he dreamed out loud of winning a world
He's won five of those. And has a college national title and an
Olympic gold medal to boot. His storied career contains all the
memories and achievements one should be allowed to have.
But it shouldn't have ended the way it did.
Forty-two points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals. That was Magic
Johnson's line in the boxscore after he single-handedly beat the 76ers in
Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals in Philadelphia for his first
championship ring. He played every position that night, from point
guard to center as he carried his Lakers - and that game is when they
became his Lakers - in the absence of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
That he could end his first NBA season like that, and then end his
last one standing at a press conference announcing he tested HIV-
positive is unthinkable. Life handed him a crucible that no one
deserves. He will conquer this thing, we told ourselves. He will keep
smiling. But we couldn't be sure.
Now, though, we find that Earvin Johnson really is something more
than just another basketball player and just another entertainer. And his
basketball redemption, for however long it lasts, is ours as well.
There will be more "junior, junior sky hooks," like the one that beat
Boston in the closing seconds in one of many memorable clashes
between Boston and L.A., between Larry Bird and Magic.
There will be a few more Laker fastbreaks with Magic - his head
up, his finger pointing to a target only he can see, and his voice audible
above everyone else's barking out commands to his eager teammates. A
little bit more of the old Laker Showtime.
They say tickets were selling at 10 times the normal rate the day
after Magic announce his return last week. That comes as no big
surprise. He was - and-is - Laker basketball. Many will say he is
basketball itself. That is why last fall's terrible revelation was so
disappointing to fans, and to Magic himself.
"But what I'll miss most is something that might seem trivial to
most people: the uniform," he wrote in a farewell article, of sorts, that
appeared in a special issue of Sports Illustrated. "That sounds silly, I
know. But it was always the uniform that-made me feel special ...
"When I walked into the locker room on my first day as a Laker and
saw my gold uniform hanging there, I cried. Off the floor I've always
been Earvin. But in uniform I was Magic."
If only for a proper sendoff, the Magic is back.
RESTAU RANT - BAR & GATHERING PLACE
L: I don't think I pattern my
game after anyone. I mean I am not
the most skilled player in the world.
I don't skate as fast as a lot of play-
ers. I don't finesse the puck as well
as a lot of players. I don't shoot as
well as a lot of players. I just get by.
D: How are you dealing with the
outlandish expectations the city of
Philadelphia, the NHL and all of
Canada are heaping on you?
L: Hey listen - we're not going
to step into anything and be a dy-
nasty right away. I think our goal is
to be competitive this year and the
following year to improve on what
we've done this year. If we can con-
tinue to do that, I think our job has
I think it takes a long time to
build a real good team, especially
Lindros holds key to
by Brett Forrest
Daily Hockey Writer
"As a Flyer, you play for the em-
blem on the front, not the name on
the back." This is the motto which
emblazons itself upon the con-
sciousness of every Philadelphia
Flyer as it hangs above the door of
the Spectrum locker room. This one
simple sentence, embodied through
the years by men such as Bernie
Parent, Bill Barber, Tim Kerr and
Pelle Lindbergh, is found at the core
of what the Flyer organization in-
However, after two Broad Street
Bullied Stanley Cups, six Finals ap-
pearances, a 35-game undefeated
streak and countless other storied
moments throughout their 25-year
history, the Flyers have been mired
in a koyaanisqatsi of sorts while en-
during the worst three seasons in the
past 21 years of the club. Their
motto of selflessness has been
shrouded in dissension. Their grand
tradition has been lost through a
funk of defeats.
The Philadelphia Flyers for years
ranked on par with the Los Angeles
Raiders and Boston Celtics as one of
the most respected organizations in
professional sports. This image was
grounded in the team's perennial
winning record and in the manner in
whsich the mnament trente rfommer
first non-winning season in 18 years.
This poor performance was fol-
lowed up by three encores of even
more disastrous proportions. After
playing 223 playoff games over 17
years, the Flyers hit the golf course
early the past three seasons.
The city of Philadelphia, which
has consistently been allowed to ex-
pect the Flyers to bring back riches
and spoils from battles won in far-
off lands such as Montreal, Edmon-
ton, Buffalo, Boston and Long
Island, has angrily grown accus-
tomed to victory-hungry slumps and
glory-poor homecomings. Enthu-
siastic Flyers fans have become a
rare breed in Philadelphia.
See LINDROS, Page 6
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