Drafted 1st overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1991, the big centre refused to go there, eventually forcing a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers that shaped the NHL as we know it today, and even continues to echo.
It's amazing to consider how the league would be different if teenage Eric Lindros wasn't a complete brat.
And he was a brat. If the draft day drama didn't give it away, on Wednesday we got a great story from ex-NHL referee Paul Stewart, who's currently blogging on his time in the stripes over at the Huffington Post. According to Stewart, his first interaction with Lindros would also turn out to be his last -- it was that bad.
Prior to a game between the Flyers and Devils, Stewart tried to make small talk.
"Hey, Eric," he said. "How are things going? How's your dad?"
The response from the 19-year-old: "[Bleep] you. Just drop the [bleeping] puck already."
Okay then. The adorable Tomas Hertl he was not.
But it gets better. Early in the game, Lindros was whistled for a high-stricking infraction, and must have decided Stewart was out to get him FOR SOME IMPOSSIBLE-TO-UNDERSTAND REASON.
Lindros got his revenge after the game, and for this part, we turn things over to Stewart:
Before the game, I had brought a tube filled with posters to Flyers' equipment manager Jim "Turk" Evers. The posters, which depicted Recchi and Lindros, were to be autographed and then donated to a charity auction. I had done a similar thing in other cities, such as a Cam Neely and Ray Bourque poster in Boston, and a Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in Pittsburgh.
After the game, I want to Turk to collect the poster tube.
"Stewy, you're not going to like this," Evers said. "I don't have them."
"What do you mean you don't have them?" I asked.
"Well, Rex signed the posters but when Eric found out they were for you, he tore every one of them up. I'm sorry about that."
I never spoke to Eric Lindros again.
Take that, charity!
I have this great image in my mind of Lindros meticulously ripping up the posters, one by one. But he probably just ripped them all at once like the Hulk tearing through a phone book. That's not nearly as funny. If you know or are Eric Lindros, please reach out to clarify for us how many posters were ripped at one time. It's important.
Anyway. The lesson, if there is one, is simple: if you want 19-year-old Eric Lindros to autograph your posters for a charity auction, don't say hi to him, and don't do your job, and definitely don't give him the posters.