One of the great traditions of the NHL Winter Classic is the alumni game, as old farts and the recently retired join together to skate in an open-air stadium to the delight of anyone who remembers when the game is on.
When Citizens Bank Park was identified as the location for the 2012 Winter Classic, one question loomed large over the Philadelphia Flyers alumni homecoming: Would Eric Lindros be a part of it?
There's been a little bit of bitterness between franchise and player through the years. Like when accusations that the team "was trying to kill" Lindros by putting him on a plane with a collapsed lung were flying a decade ago. Yeah … that bitter.
But it sounds like a Lindros appearance at the Winter Classic is in the works. Justin Johnson of The Hockey Writers has a solid interview with Lindros — including some concussion and player safety-related questions — and asked about the Classic:
Q: There have been some rumors going around in Philly that you've been invited to play in the Winter Classic Alumni game. Is there any truth to that?
Eric Lindros: I talked with [Flyers GM] Paul Holmgren about a month or five weeks back and we chatted about it. That'd be great if I could see Mikael Renberg again, and Johnny LeClair. I haven't seen Johnny in a couple of years. That would be a lot of fun. Also possibly we could set up something along the lines where we could do something for CHOP (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia), maybe have a lunch or do something along those lines. We could bring in hockey fans and chat a little bit about what we're up to and sign a bunch of stuff.
Q: So have you made a decision to definitely come down for that or is it still up in the air at this point?
Eric Lindros: I haven't talked to Paul since we initially spoke a couple of times but it sounds like a great time.
Check out the full interview. Including the part where "putting the red line back in would alleviate" a lot of concussions.
He should be part of Philly folklore. He should be a guest commentator from time to time on Flyers broadcasts. He should be kissing babies dipped in Crab Fries in the WFC before games. At the very least he should be centering Johnny Vermont and Mikael Renberg during an outdoor alumni game at a Flyerstravaganza where they'll be combing the Canadian country side for former Flyers. Trent Klatt will be there.
Of course, in our minds, nothing would make the Winter Classic alumni game more exciting than to see Eric Lindros skate out … in a New York Rangers jersey. To the nWo theme. Preferably with a heel-ish beard.
Short of that, the completely awkward but nostalgically rewarding reunion of the Legion of Doom will suffice — as long as there's a photo op between Ed Snider, Bobby Clarke and Lindros. Preferably hugging it out.