Eric Lindros was as surprised as everyone else in the audience when a French-Canadian television talk show co-host presented him with a No. 88 Quebec Nordiques jersey.
With the cameras rolling, Lindros pulled the former NHL franchise’s blue, red and white colors over his head without reservation and smiled.
“The sidekick wanted to have some fun and pulled out a jersey and said, ‘Here’s a parting gift,”’ Lindros said Wednesday, recalling his guest appearance on “Tout Le Monde En Parle” last weekend. “It was a good moment.”
It was also an act Lindros would never have considered 15 years ago, let alone in 1991. That’s when Lindros refused play for Quebec after being drafted by the Nordiques with the No. 1 pick before forcing his trade to Philadelphia a year later.
Lindros paused for nearly 25 seconds over the phone in attempting to reconcile his past with the present, and reflecting on how far he’s come in moving on from a 13-year NHL career that began with his decision to miss his entire first season and ended up shortened by concussions.
“Things change, right?” he said. “It was an interesting time back then. It’s a lot different now.”
So is Lindros, a few weeks shy of his 44th birthday. Living in Toronto, he’s married with three young children and the co-owner of a clothing distribution company.
“It’s not sexy by any stretch,” he said of his new life.
And yet it’s fulfilling for a the 1995 Hart Trophy-winner, who finds himself at peace 10 years since he retired following one-year stint in Dallas.
Lindros has reached a stage where he is re-entering the spotlight, a process that began with him being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November . He’s begun taking part in Flyers alumni events. His TV appearance last weekend was to promote a French-Canadian documentary, “Lindros Revisite,” highlighting the events that led to him not playing for the Nordiques.
At a time Lindros is comfortable reflecting on his past, he’s also prepared to part with some of it.
Lindros has placed about 50 pieces of memorabilia up for sale on the Classic Auctions website. The items range from game-worn Flyers jerseys from his rookie season, to three sticks he used in his final game with Dallas. Other items include a Team Canada jersey Lindros wore at the 1992 Albertville Games. The auction closes on March 7.
The decision to sell his memorabilia coincides with his family preparing to move into a new home.
“It’s just time to move on,” Lindros said. “There’s no need to have things lying all around. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always grateful and appreciative of my experiences in hockey. It’s just that we don’t have things hanging on the wall. That’s just not us.”
Sorting through the items brought back memories for Lindros, and reminded him of how fortunate he was to play in the NHL. He has also found perspective in how the second half of his career was sidetracked by the debilitating effects of at least six concussions.
The most devastating came during Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference finals, when New Jersey captain Scott Stevens lowered his shoulder and delivered a heavy hit in catching Lindros with his head down while crossing the Devils’ blue line.
Lindros acknowledged he was never the same player after that check, and developed a phobia of cutting through the middle.
He scored 290 goals and 659 points in 486 games with the Flyers. After sitting out 2000-01, he combined for 82 goals and 206 points in 274 games over his final five seasons split over three teams.
Upon his retirement, Lindros has been active in raising awareness regarding the effects of head injuries and backing research on how to treat them. He donated $5 million to his hometown London (Ontario) Health Sciences Foundation and its sports medicine clinic.
Lindros supports the NHL for establishing concussion protocols and rules to reduce the number of head injuries. And yet, he adds, much more can be done.
“I don’t think there’s any point in looking backward,” he said, referring to how little was known about treating concussions when he was sidelined.
“I think we can do better,” Lindros added. “If we can communicate better. If we can share ideas better. If we can bring our results to the table in a much more timely fashion and collaborate. I have to believe it’s possible.”