When Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom rung the bell on the 5th floor of the Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital on July 2, it signified the completion of his radiation treatments.
But also so much more.
It signified the 23-year-old's unwavering courage and fight to overcome a life obstacle as scary as cancer.
He’s one of the toughest guys I know," Kevin Hayes said Wednesday. "Every time you saw him, he was upbeat, he was happy. If it wasn’t for him losing his hair, you probably wouldn’t have known he had cancer. He was a true warrior, true professional, and made us realize that what our problems are, they're not that serious. I think he brought our team together.
Lindblom, along with Stephen Johns (Stars) and Bobby Ryan (Senators), was voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association as a finalist for the 2020 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, an award given annually to "the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey.”
The winner is expected to be announced during the Conference Final series, which are scheduled to begin Sept. 8.
"I'm very humbled to be considered for this award that so many courageous and great players have won," Lindblom said in a statement released by the team. "Seeing the overwhelming support from fans, my teammates and the entire hockey community has been very emotional for me and without a doubt helped me get through this difficult time, and back to being with and doing the things I love."
The Swedish native was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in mid-December. The Flyers, fans and the NHL have rallied around Lindblom ever since. Lindblom, who according to his medical team is now deemed without evidence of cancer at this time, constantly uplifted the Flyers' spirits with his own presence and positivity despite enduring draining treatments.
Back in December, the Flyers had finished an 0-3-0 road trip during which they learned of Lindblom's sudden and shocking diagnosis. At that juncture, it was the club's lowest point of the season. As the Flyers returned to Philadelphia, Lindblom greeted them at the Wells Fargo Center and the team went on to win four straight games.
Prior to his diagnosis, Lindblom was projected to finish with 30 goals, which would have shattered his career high of 17 set in a promising 2018-19 rookie season.
"That was a huge moment in our season, you have one of your best players go down to cancer," Hayes said. "He's a close friend of everyone, but cancer, it's a serious situation, it’s a sucky situation. It affects a lot of people. It just so happened this year, it affected our team. You never want to see anyone battling cancer but it happened and I think Oskar was a true professional about it. He didn’t wonder why me, why me. He just took it on, full head of steam and battled it.
"We obviously had his back the whole entire time, but I think it made us realize there is more than hockey. We want to win every single night and everyone wants to score goals every single night, but there’s some real stuff going on outside of hockey. I think our team got a taste of that this year and I think it brought our team together, for sure.
"If anyone on our team was having problems throughout the year, all you had to do was think of what Oskar was going through and your problems became very miniscule compared to his."
On and off the ice, Lindblom made the Flyers better in 2019-20. And he wants to put on that jersey again in the future.
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