Fri Dec 30 06:24pm EST
Eric Lindros' bitter divorce from the Flyers in 2001, and long-time public feud with Bobby Clarke, put a sour end to a promising beginning for the former prospect dubbed "The Next One". But on Friday afternoon, Lindros stood on the field at Citizen Bank Park all smiles and speaking excitedly about coming back and wearing a Flyers jersey once again.
"It'll be great," said Lindros. "It'll be the orange and black. It's been a while since I pulled on a Flyers jersey. It would mean a lot to me."
Lindros' return back into Flyers' fold has been a slow unfolding process. In 2008, the ex-Flyers captain left a video message for the fans as the organization honored the franchise's former captains during ceremonies marking the closing of The Spectrum.
Then in August, as word started leaking out that the Flyers would be participating in the Winter Classic, GM Paul Holmgren reached out to Lindros and invited him to play.
The appearance by Lindros on the ice in Philadelphia Saturday afternoon is the final page being turned and book getting closed on the once-bitter relationship between him and the organization, specifically Clarke. The former Flyers GM softened his stance towards Lindros over the years and even trumpeted No. 88's Hall of Fame credentials in 2007.
Lindros himself is past the point of thinking "What if?" regarding the premature ending of his career and the off-the-ice distractions that took place.
"What's the point?," said Lindros. "I don't see any merit it looking back and questioning the past."
Rekindling the fond memories of his days as a Flyer will be easy when he's flanked by one of his "Legion of Doom" linemates, John LeClair. Unfortunately, the trio will be not together on Saturday as Mikael Renberg is working on Swedish television as a broadcaster for the World Junior Championships.
"We had a great deal of fun," he said. "We really did enjoy playing with one another and pushing each other."
Lindros hasn't completely given up the game. He said he plays twice a week, but joked, "It's a little slower, but a whole lot of fun."
The Flyers and the Rangers met twice in the playoffs during Lindros' time in Philadelphia, winning both series 4-0 and 4-1, respectively. He said he expects the rivalry between the two teams from the past to come into play during the Alumni Game.
"I'm sure things will pick up once the game gets going," said Lindros.
"I'll be honest with you, I think it'll be some pretty good hockey."
Photo credit: Getty Images