Hockey Hall of Fame

Former Flyers forward Mark Recchi elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

Former Flyers forward Mark Recchi elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

Mark Recchi was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame Monday after waiting through three years of eligibility.

He will join Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, Dave Andreychuk, Danielle Goyette, Clare Drake and Jeremy Jacobs in the Hall of Fame's class of 2017.

And with his pending induction in mind, what can you say about the illustrious career of Recchi that hasn’t already been stated?

Began his career in Pittsburgh and wins a Stanley Cup in his third year?

Gets traded to the Flyers for Rick Tocchet, and proceeds to play in Philadelphia for a few years.

Goes to Montreal, comes back to the Flyers, and twice has long runs here before heading to Carolina where he’s a pivotal player for Peter Laviolette’s Cup-winning Hurricanes.

Finally, he finishes off his career in Boston where he wins his third Cup, ironically, the year after his Bruins blew a 3-0 series lead to Laviolette’s Flyers in the playoffs.

Only seven players have ever won three Cups with three different teams.

Oh, did we mention he has a ring in Penguins management from 2016 as a player development coach and will get another ring this fall after the Pens' second consecutive Cup? Five rings!

He also was promoted this month to director of player development.

Recchi’s longevity, desire and ability to play at a consistently high level wherever he went is a major reason why he is entering the Hall of Fame.

He should have been voted in last year with Eric Lindros.

“I can’t thank the Selection Committee enough for this recognition,” Recchi said in a statement. “It’s an incredible feeling and the icing on the cake after 22 years of playing the game.”

The stocky, 5-foot-10, 195-pound right wing from Kamloops, B.C., played 1,652 NHL games, scored 577 goals and amassed 1,533 points during a brilliant 22-year career.

“When Mark Recchi walked into a dressing room, I knew as a teammate, I was getting a highly competitive, high-character, extremely generous and passionate person,” said Tocchet, who picked up his second Cup recently as an assistant coach with Mike Sullivan’s Penguins.

Tocchet and Recchi were Flyers teammates for three seasons.

Recchi spent a total of 10 years in Flyers orange and black where he was a point-a-game player – 627 points in 602 games.

“On behalf of the Philadelphia Flyers, I am very pleased to hear the news that Mark Recchi will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame,” said Flyers President Paul Holmgren. “Mark was an important member of the Flyers organization and contributed to much of our success during both his tenures with the club, which included two trips to the Conference Finals. He continues to hold the club’s record for most points in a single season and was a very dedicated member of our team. He was an outstanding player and this honor is well deserved.”

“Mark was a great team guy and displayed leadership,” said another former teammate, Craig Berube. “A very good passer with the puck and very smart on the ice.”

Recchi, now 49-years-old, averaged nearly 20 minutes a night ice time his entire career, too.

“His leadership was valuable to the teams he won Stanley Cups with,” said Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who traded for Recchi at the deadline in Carolina in 2006.

“Mark played well both on offense and defense in all situations.”

Ken Hitchcock coached Recchi in Kamloops and in Philadelphia. Hitchcock will tell you his 2003-04 Flyers might have been the greatest team he ever coached in the NHL that didn’t win a Cup.

“Winning follows Mark,” Hitchcock said at the NHL draft this weekend. “He was a very competitive player when it mattered most. He really adjusted his game and his roles on teams. Mark won at every level and that’s not an accident.”

Recchi’s selection completes a perfect legacy – an impact player wherever he went and one who won multiple Cups.

“A real champion,” Rutherford said.

Flyers legend Eric Lindros highlights family for support in HOF speech

Flyers legend Eric Lindros highlights family for support in HOF speech

TORONTO -- You could see it on his face and hear it in his voice over the past few days.

Eric Lindros could breathe deeply, smile and finally smell the roses of a career that came with so much promise and potential.  

While his career was never validated with a Stanley Cup championship, the game provided Lindros with a different degree of satisfaction.

"I love the friendships that hockey has fostered," he said during his enshrinement speech into the Hockey Hall of Fame Monday night. "No other sport brings people of different backgrounds together." 

Lindros spoke for seven minutes, acknowledging the many coaches and teammates he played with, but reserved much of his praise for his Legion of Doom linemates.

"Special thanks to John LeClair and Mikael Renberg for their intensity and joy of the game," Lindros said before recalling a certain fight he had with the Kings' Marty McSorley.

His career off the ice was a similarly-fought battle. He informed the Quebec Nordiques, who drafted him No. 1 overall, he would never play with them and then promptly sat out the 1991-92 season. Lindros took a stance no hockey player had ever done while many pointed to his parents, father Carl and mother Bonnie, as the instigators behind the superstar's decisions. Obviously, Lindros saw it differently. 

"Every kid should be that lucky, and they (Carl and Bonnie) allowed me to make my own decisions even if they weren't that popular," he told the packed crowd at Toronto's Brookfield Plaza.

Over time, the Lindros family developed a resentment toward the Flyers organization on how to manage the superstar's health following repeated concussions. Former Flyers general manager Bob Clarke, who had repeated battles and quarrels with the Lindros camp, finally came to the realization after stepping down from his GM post in 2006 that Lindros needed a team to attach his legacy to moving forward. Clarke, along with Paul Holmgren, began the process to repair the damage. Lindros, on the other hand, gained some much-needed perspective through his wife Kina, who he married in 2012.

"My journey in the hockey world was a roller coaster," Lindros said. "It left me with bitter feelings and Kina has brought me balance."

At the age of 43, Lindros has been removed from the NHL for nine years now, but only recently has it taken the former Flyers superstar to fully realize why he fell in love with the game as a kid growing up in London, Ontario. He's even back to playing pick-up games twice a week.

"I enjoy the action of it," he told reporters this week. "I enjoy the rinks. I enjoy the ice. I enjoy the sounds. I enjoy the cling of the post, the feeling of moving the puck past a goaltender and seeing a red light go on." 

It wasn't always that way, and his hockey career may not have gone exactly as planned, but Lindros was determined to share this one crowning achievement. He capped his speech by inviting his younger brother, Brett, on stage to indulge in the moment.

"Although we never played together, I want to close this chapter of my life with you beside me," Lindros said as he finished his speech. 

It was a selfless and classy moment and some self perspective that in the 25 years since his selection as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1991 NHL draft, the career of Eric Lindros wasn't always about Eric Lindros.  

Eric Lindros' career comes full circle with Hockey Hall of Fame induction

Eric Lindros' career comes full circle with Hockey Hall of Fame induction

He scored his first goal as a Flyer in October 1992.
 
Two years later, he was named team captain. By 1995, he had won the Hart Trophy for NHL MVP at the age of 22.
 
Three years later, he became the fifth fastest player to score 500 points (just 352 games), following in the skates of Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Peter Stastny and Mike Bossy.
 
Monday night in Toronto, Eric Lindros, the second-greatest centerman in Flyers history behind Bobby Clarke, takes his rightful place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 
“Look at the names on the plaques,” Lindros said Friday afternoon in Toronto at the Hockey Hall of Fame luncheon. “Just being in here. Jeez, it's the cream of the crop. It's a real honor to be part of this.”
 
Clarke, Bill Barber, Mark Howe and current general manager Ron Hextall will all be on hand for the induction occasion this evening.
 
“The impact he had — his size, his skill, skating ability, his physicality and how he could take over a game was incredible,” Flyers president Paul Holmgren said.  
 
“He’s within our top-five players ever, right up there after Clarkie, Bernie [Parent] and Bill [Barber] and those three were in a league of their own.”
 
When he arrived in Philadelphia in 1992 after signing an unprecedented — at the time — five-year, $22.96 million contract, Lindros quipped, “This is like paradise.”
 
For a while, it truly was as he became the most dominant power forward of his generation.
 
“Eric’s physical presence, combined with his powerful skating and overall ability put him heads above the rest,” former teammate Rod Brind’Amour said.
 
At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, he was among the biggest players ever to lace up the skates, and when he moved on the ice, he brought momentum like few players before him.
 
“What can you say about Eric other than he was the dominant player when he came into the league?” Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello said this past weekend.

Lamoriello was the general manager of the Devils during Lindros’ peak years.
 
“Eric was a force," Lamoriello said. "Someone you were aware of every time you stepped on the ice. He could singlehandedly change the game. Power and strength and skating, he had the whole package.
 
“We had many, many nights, the playoffs, the battles, the brawls and the relationship with [Ed] Snider, Clarke and Homer never wilted and then the puck dropped it was different.”
 
Because Lindros towered over his peers, he developed a terrible habit in junior of skating with his head down and barreling over people.
 
That fateful tendency was Lindros’ only flaw. Tragically, it would become the reason why his NHL career was cut well short of 1,000 games, as he was hit repeatedly while skating that way and suffered head trauma leading to post-concussion syndrome.
 
“Unfortunately, his career ended as short as it did,” Holmgren said. “To me, he could have been like [Jaromir] Jagr and gone on if he had remained reasonably healthy just because of his ability.”
 
Lindros' brilliant Flyers career ended in Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils. Scott Stevens caught him on the chin with his head down 7:50 into the first period as Lindros crossed the blue line.
 
“I had seen many of those hits by Scotty over the years and Scotty played the game the way the game should be played — physical and clean,” Lamoriello said.
 
“Opponents knew when he was on the ice and it was their responsibility to be aware of it. Keep your head up. When that happened, I thought to myself, ‘This could be the series.’ You never want to see anyone hurt and always hope the player comes back. It didn’t happen.”
 
Stevens said afterward it took him a long time to get over that hit. Lindros, who would take the next season off with post-concussion syndrome, then refused to the return to the Flyers and was never the same player even after he was traded to the Rangers.
 
He admitted the hit made him wary of coming up the middle of the ice in the twilight of his career.
 
Most Flyers fans prefer to remember the years prior to 2000 when he dominated the league and was relatively healthy — four of his six concussions as a Flyer came in 2000.
 
How the club dealt with those injuries vs. how Lindros’ father/agent Carl Lindros wanted them handled became the grounds for the long-standing feud between the two parties that divided a fan base.
 
“My only memory of Lindros was listening to Clarkie talk about how great he could have been while the veins popped out of his neck,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi said.
 
It wasn’t until only a few years ago that the two sides seemed to reconcile, and even now, Lindros says all that is in the past and he has only good memories of the franchise.
 
Ironically, it was Clarke’s participation on the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee that ultimately led to Lindros' induction after being passed over six previous times.
 
“Eric deserves to be in the Hall of Fame,” Clarke told CSN several years ago before he joined the committee.
 
Lindros’ injuries helped bring post-concussion syndrome into the spotlight in sports, which is why people have come to see him in an entirely new light than they did back in 2002 when he refused to re-sign with the Flyers.
 
“It was something in those days we didn’t have the knowledge that we have today,” Lamoriello said in defense of how hockey viewed post-concussion syndrome.
 
By the final season of his Flyers career, Lindros ranked in the Flyers’ top 10 in goals (290), assists (369), points (659), power-play goals (82) and hat tricks (11). His 1.36 points a game remains a franchise record.
 
“His comparison blows a lot of guys out of the water,” former linemate John LeClair said.
 
Lindros averaged 1.14 points per game overall during his 13 NHL seasons. Peter Forsberg, the centerpiece Swede who was part of the original Lindros trade with Quebec, averaged 1.25 points a game.
 
“You can shut down a really good finesse player,” former Flyer Rick Tocchet said. “But it’s really hard to shut down a skilled player who has power and strength — Eric had all those tools to dictate how the game was going to be played and he tilted the game in your favor.”
 
Lindros' "Legion of Doom" line with LeClair and Mikael Renberg was together for 5½ seasons.
 
The Legion of Doom had two memorable seasons under head coach Terry Murray, with a record 255 points in 1995-96 and 235 points in 1996-97, the only year the line skated together in a Stanley Cup Final.
 
“John, Mikael and I were a pretty special group,” Lindros once said. “We set up one another and we certainly enjoyed playing with one another and being together on and off the ice. It really was a special group to be involved with.
 
“We were a pretty confident bunch. Certainly, there were some times that it didn’t turn out that way. But we’d like to think that overall we had a pretty good positive effect on the outcome of our games.”
 
Monday, it culminates with Lindros’ induction in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 
“He is getting rewarded and rightly so,” Lamoriello said. “It’s a tremendous honor for him. It shows the type of player and career he had.”