The 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame class was announced on Monday and one significant name was missing once again. Eric Lindros, despite being eligible since 2010 has been passed over yet again. Why is this? Why does it keep happening?
Let's take a look at hist numbers first. His NHL Career saw him score 372 goals, 493 assist for 865 points in 760 NHL games, with a total of 1.14 points per game. This was over 13 seasons, and he averaged about 59 games a season. Lindros sits 19th all-time in points per game and is the only inactive member of this list not in the Hall of Fame. He also has a career +215 if that thing floats your boat. Below are his career numbers:
Lindros has these NHL records under his belt as well.
4th fastest player in NHL history to score 300 points (210 GP) behind Wayne Gretzky (159), Mario Lemieux (186) & Peter Stastny (186)
4th fastest player in NHL history to score 400 points (277 GP) behind Wayne Gretzky (197), Mario Lemieux (240) & Peter Stastny (247)
5th fastest player in NHL history to score 500 points (352 GP) behind Wayne Gretzky (234), Mario Lemieux (287) & Peter Stastny (322) & Mike Bossy (349)
6th fastest player in NHL history to score 600 points (429 GP) behind Wayne Gretzky (273), Mario Lemieux (323), Peter Stastny (394), Mike Bossy (400) & Jari Kurri (419)
For some, the HHOF is about hardware. Lindros doesn't have a Stanley Cup, the closest he came is in 1997 when the Red Wings swept the Flyers in the final. Lindros has a celebrated junior career, his number is retired by the Oshawa Generals, and won League MVP and players' MVP during his time in the NHL. He also has several gold medals from his time with Team Canada.
J. Ross Robertson Cup - OHL Championship - 1990
Memorial Cup - National Jr Championship - 1990
Eddie powers Memorial Trophy - Most Points - 1991
Red Tilson Trophy - OHL MVP - 1991
OHL 1st Team All-Star - 1991
CHL Player of the Year - 1991
Memorial Cup All-Star - 1991
IIHF Men's U20 Championships - 1990, 1991 Gold Medalist
Winter Olympics - 1992 Silver Medal, 2002 Gold Medal
Canada Cup - 1991 Gold Medal
IIHF Men's U20 All-Star Team - 1991
IIHF Men's U20 Best forward - 1991
Winter Olympic All-Star Team - 1992
IIHF World championship All-Star Team - 1993
IIHF World Championship Best Forward - 1993
NHL All-Rookie team - 1993
Hart Memorial Trophy - 1995
Lester B. Pearson Award - 1995
NHL First All-Star Team - 1995
NHL Second All-Star Team - 1996
Bobby Clarke Trophy (Flyers MVP) - 1994-96, 1999
The Other Inductees
Eric Lindros was available to be inducted since 2010. Below are those who entered the hall before him, as well as how many eligible player spots were left open that year.
|2011||Joe Nieuwendyk, Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe, Ed Belfour||0|
|2012||Pavel Bure, Adam Oates, Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin||0|
|2013||Chris Chelios, Scott Niedermayer, Brendan Shanahan||1|
|2014||Dominik Hašek, Peter Forsberg, Rob Blake, Mike Modano||0|
|2015||Sergei Fedorov, Phil Housley, Nicklas Lidström, Chris Pronger||0|
There are some inductees above that I personally wouldn't have put in ahead of Lindros. Ciccarelli, Housley, Pronger (because he was just traded to Arizona). All have their merits and were found to be welcome to enter the Hall, but personally I wouldn't have done it over Lindros.
I originally named this part "The Reason" but that seemed to be too full of myself. This is all based around my own thoughts, but is he not in the HHOF because he's never been one to "play the game"? At the OHL draft Eric Lindros decided to be active in his future. He didn't want to play for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. As a Toronto kid, I can't blame him for not wanting to move so far north at 16.
Too many CHL fans ignore players ages when this sort of thing happens, not everyone can just up and go across the province to live with strangers. So Lindros held out, wanting some say in his future. He told the Soo not to draft him, but they did anyway. This is something that happens all the time in the CHL. Players let teams know ahead of time "don't draft me", and sometimes they don't, sometimes they do. Usually these aren't such high profile prospects though, as the hockey machine has programmed them to just say "yes sir, thank you sir". Teams draft these kids anyway just to flip them for picks/players. Sure, no big deal.
At the NHL draft, Eric Lindros told the Nordiques, "Don't draft me."
Yeahhhhh...okay so this one's a bit different. You know that hockey robot programming I mentioned above? It should have been beaten into him by this point (Jr hockey seems to be unable to do a lot for the players as people, but that's one thing it does fantastically). This is one part of my theory as to why he's still out. He refused to "play the game." Go where he was drafted, and sit like a good boy until he was traded or hit free agency, which in those days was after 30. Have other players forced their way out of a city and made it in? Sure, but no one rags on Gilmour for sitting out in Calgary after all these years.
Dougie went to St. Louis though. He went up to that podium, put on the jersey, and played along with the show. Refusing to report in Quebec City, and the drama with the Flyers/Rangers that followed, sitting out what would have been his first pro season, going back to Oshawa and playing with Team Canada in the 1992 Olympics.
Once the deals were done, and Lindros was in the league he was very popular and very dominant. Concussions and injuries began to take their toll from the start of his NHL career. Five years after joining the Flyers, being a member of their Legion of Doom line, he and GM Bobby Clarke were at odds.
Lindros spent time on IR, injuries and concussions, and manager Clarke called into question his 'toughness'. In 1999 Lindros was found in his hotel bathtub, pale and cold. it turns out he suffered a collapsed lung in a game and was bleeding internally. Flyers trainers reportedly told him to get on a plane back to Philly with another injured teammate, but his rommate insited Lindros go to the hospital. Lindros' father let the team know if Lindros was on the plane back to Philly he would have died, this was said to have been backed up by ER doctors.
In the 99/00 season he lashed out at Flyers personnel for failing to diagnose a concussion and sat out the rest of the season trying to rehabilitate himself. Clarke stripped Lindros of his Captains C for this action. An RFA the Flyers offered Lindros a 2 way contract.
Lindros demanded a trade and did not play in the 00/01 season. Lindros would go onto play for the NY Rangers from 2001-2004, and signed with Toronto after the lost season in 2005, where he ended his season early with a wrist injury. After 49 games with Dallas in 06/07 he retired the following Autumn. Know who's on the the list of the HHoF induction committee members? Bobby Clarke. They've said that things are in the past but, are they?
There's part 2 of what I think is holding him back. Yes, we know a lot more about concussions a decade and a half later from the Lindros/Clarke saga, but that has not stopped players/teams from demanding "toughness, grit and heart" from each other, and that includes playing through injury. When Lindros sat out time to recover, and showed anger about misdiagnosis that was played up as "drama" and him being a "prima donna" at the time, but now I'd say it's him being smart wanting to take care of himself long term.
Part 3 is almost entirely rumour and speculation, but if true it rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. The Lindros Parents. Here, I googled "Eric Lindros Parents" for you. So yes, it's all speculation, but even if some of it were true, it couldn't help him.
Should he be in?
Yes. Eric Lindros did not have a long or healthy NHL career. He's below the top 100 for goals and points. He did score over 1 PPG. He never won a Stanley Cup, but that's a team award and overrated as a requirement (ahem, Oilers dynasty members). Yes he missed season. Yes he was combative with management.
Yes he refused to play along with any kind of draft. But his skill, his contributions to his teams, his play in his prime all stand out more than those things. If I had a ballot, he'd be in on his first ballot, I mean that year it was Dino Ciccarelli and him alone as men's players inducted, that's a red flag to me. Many others argue for him as well. With next year being a slow one for first year eligible players the HHoF needs to pick up it's socks and do what needs to be done.
A year later and there's a better chance it could happen. Comments are re-opened, but if you reply to a comment from last year, don't get your hopes up.