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Why Lindros Skated with the Philadelphia Flyers Prior to Maple Leafs Game: Fan’s Take
The Philadelphia Flyers invitation that enabled Eric Lindros to join their Alumni team at the Winter Classic against the New York Rangers three months ago became a fabulous success. The sight of number 88 on the ice with his former team before their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday was another 'feel good moment' between two sides that have made peace.
The passage of time
As the E-train pulled into Philadelphia last December, anticipation among hardcore hockey fans moved to its highest level in years.
Even New York Rangers fans became part of the pre-game ovation that Lindros received from the massively energized Citizens Bank Park Crowd on New Year's Eve Day. Seeing him re-team with John LeClair during the Winter Classic Alumni game for a few give-and-goes also evoked fondly held memories for all who were present.
Talking with him about hockey after the game, amidst four decades of Flyers legends, wasn't work for me.
The evolution of what Lindros originally meant to the franchise, how he helped to 'build' what became the Wells Fargo Center, the electricity of his career, the health issues that he battled through and the eventual disintegration of his connection with the Flyers, created a seemingly unresolvable ending to story that began like a hockey dream in the early 1990s.
Everyone likes a happy ending
Because team founder and chairman Ed Snider built a genuine appreciation for his clients (the fans) into his initial business plan in the 1960s, his team has been able to thrive despite having not won the Cup since 1975. The marketing machine that has sustained this Philadelphia hockey town is not built on false hope. The Flyers 'brand' has been sustained through ongoing passionate player-fan connections.
Because Lindros, the Flyers organization and their fans never got to experience the third Stanley Cup that many believed was destined to be delivered, this recent rapprochement serves as a different type of happy ending. In fact, it's not an ending at all. Instead, bringing one of the greatest players in team history back into the fold is actually the start of a renewed era.
To re-introduce Lindros to his old fans, as well as to introduce him to an entirely new generation that never saw him actually wear the team's uniform, is smart. More importantly, it's only right that both sides move forward and work together.
Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He has written professionally for over two decades and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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