It has been 20 years since Eric Lindros wore No. 88 in Philadelphia and now the Flyers have welcomed "Big E" back as a team ambassador. The Hockey Hall of Famer, whose number hangs from the rafters in the Wells Fargo Center, rejoins the team that he spent most of his career with and he has been impressed with this year’s version of the orange and black.
“I thought the Flyers this year were one of those teams where I don’t think people would be that uneased if they were in the second or third round," Lindros said Wednesday in a video interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark. "They’re that good.
“Things are coming together for them. A lot of depth. Great goaltending. You know they like playing for the coach. They like Alain Vigneault and it shows in what they’re doing on the ice.”
Of course, we’ll never know how things would have played out if the season hadn’t stopped because of the coronavirus pandemic and whether the Flyers would have ridden the momentum to a deep playoff run, but Lindros said there’s a positive takeaway.
“It’s not all for naught," he said. "It’s something you can build off.
“It’s disappointing they didn’t have a chance to show what they’re good for down the stretch, but it’s not to say they can’t do it when things reopen.”
Lindros’ playoff runs with the Flyers included goaltender Ron Hextall, who led several deep playoff runs during his two stints in orange and black, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 1997 when Lindros’ "Legion of Doom" line was among the most dominant in the NHL. Lindros said having good goaltending is the “ultimate perk” for a team and he believes the Flyers are in good shape now and in the future with their young phenom between the pipes.
“Carter Hart is a real good goalie," he said. "He’s just solid. To have someone like that is fantastic.”
And even though Hart’s experience is very limited with the 21-year-old having played parts of just two seasons, Lindros didn’t hesitate to put the young goaltender in some pretty elite company.
“I don’t think there’s any game the Montreal Canadiens walk into and say we’re going to get shellacked or we don’t have a chance," Lindros said. "When they have Carey Price in net, they have a chance every night they play because Carey Price is that good. I think Carter Hart is right there.”
One thing is for sure — if the NHL does return, Flyers fans and the team’s new ambassador will have a watchful eye on what Vigneault and company can do in what will certainly be one of the most unique playoff scenarios anyone has ever seen.
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