Lindros: Head Case

The Parent Trap

Let's forget—just for a moment—that multiple-concussion victim Eric Lindros is perhaps an accident waiting to happen.

Let's also forget that, once again, the Rangers may be jettisoning young talent for a superstar passing through supernova stage on the way to becoming a white dwarf—and how bizarre that so many Ranger regimes over time have been blinded by the light.

Let's instead cut Rangers president Glen Sather and his new acquisition some slack and assume Lindros will be healthy again, playing his robust game without consequence.

There still remains one immense problem in Sather's attempt to revive this moribund franchise by acquiring Lindros. That problem is his agent-father, Carl Lindros, and his mother, Bonnie.

As Montreal Gazette columnist Jack Todd wrote last week, "His parents are, by general agreement, the most obnoxious, interfering duo in the game." Throughout Lindros's career, his parents have manipulated teams and entire leagues. (They've always maintained they're looking out for his best interests.)

"They've tried to bully their way through life, starting in kids' hockey," Flyers GM Bob Clarke recalled last winter. "They bullied the Ontario Hockey League because they didn't want Eric playing in one of their towns. They wouldn't go to Quebec after they drafted him."

It continued in Philly. Sources in the Flyer organization tell of multiple daily marathon phone calls from Mom and Dad, who complained about virtually everything. They got players traded. They wanted coaches fired. They attacked the medical staff and even the PR people. Most recently, they tried to dictate to which team the Flyers should trade Eric.

Eric more than accepted this parental interference. Sources say he became a prima donna both on and off the ice, probably the most unpopular team captain in hockey history. No wonder exasperated Flyers owner Ed Snider remarked last season, "I resent him and I resent his family. I don't like them. I want to get rid of them."

Now he has.

Hockey franchises require unity on the ice and in the dressing room, with the front office and in their public pronouncements; without it, the selfishness, petty bickering, and jealousies that inevitably follow can cripple a club's chemistry in this most demanding team sport. The Flyers won no Stanley Cups with Lindros and were often bitterly divided.

The only way to insure that a healthy Lindros will help the Rangers and finally emerge as the great player the hockey world expected him to become will be for Sather to draw a hard line around his organization and keep Carl and Bonnie outside.

If not, Madison Square Garden will just be bringing another circus to town.


Click here to read Lindros's concussion history.
 
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