VOORHEES, N.J. — Earlier this month, Oskar Lindblom rung a bell on the 5th floor of the Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital to signify the completion of his cancer treatments.
Twenty days later, the 23-year-old Lindblom signed a new three-year, $9 million contract with the Flyers on Wednesday.
His comeback is on.
In mid-December, the Swedish native was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that occurs in bones or in the soft tissue around the bones. Lindblom, who according to his medical team is now deemed without evidence of cancer at this time, constantly uplifted the Flyers' spirits this season with his presence, positivity and smile despite enduring draining radiation treatments.
He’s now aiming to rejoin his team.
That was some dark times when the diagnosis of Oskar’s cancer was known," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Wednesday. "A young man just entering not only the prime of his career but the prime of his life. He’s been through a lot the last six, seven months. Obviously medically he’s in a much better spot, but he’s a young man that’s just really starting his career.
“Our organization believes wholeheartedly in Oskar, our players believe in him, [head coach Alain Vigneault] and our coaching staff believe in him and I believe in him. We couldn’t be happier to have this three-year deal done.
“As I said to him earlier today, this hopefully is the smallest contract you sign for the rest of your career.
Prior to his diagnosis, Lindblom (11 goals in 30 games) was projected to finish with 30 goals this season, which would have shattered his career high of 17 set in a promising 2018-19 rookie season.
“I am very excited to be a part of the Flyers for the next three seasons,” Lindblom said in a statement released by the team. “The support that the organization, the fans and the entire NHL has given me has been quite overwhelming. I can’t wait to get back skating with the boys and being the professional hockey player I know I can be. I want to thank the Flyers for giving me this opportunity and I look forward to the day I’m back and contributing to the team’s success.”
Fletcher said the Flyers are hopeful Lindblom will be one of the team’s 31 players to travel to Toronto for the NHL’s return-to-play 24-team tournament.
“He has been cleared by his oncologist and by the medical team that worked with him and by our medical team to start resuming activities and to train and to skate," Fletcher said. "He’s getting stronger all the time. … At the right time, he absolutely will be able to participate with our group.”
The Flyers are not ruling anything out with Lindblom if the winger travels to Toronto as part of the club's 31-man roster. And why should they? When asked about Lindblom, if on the roster, possibly practicing or even having the chance to appear in a game, Fletcher said:
“I don’t know what’s out of the question. I certainly wouldn’t put any limits on Oskar. We obviously will do everything we can to protect him, but he’s looking forward to restarting his life and his career. Whatever that means, we’ll find out. We’ll work very closely with his medical team, our medical team and we’ll make the right decisions for him.”
Oskar Lindblom's 24th birthday is on Aug. 15. The Flyers will be in the middle of their first-round playoff series.— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) July 22, 2020
I hope Lindblom is celebrating with his teammates in Toronto.
Lindblom, who was set to become a restricted free agent during the offseason, made the Flyers better in 2019-20 when he was on the ice as well as off it. He had the opportunity to skate with some teammates during a voluntary workout in late June at Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone.
"He's just the greatest kid to have around," Matt Niskanen said. "He's a hell of a player. ... We think about him and talk about him all the time."
Lindblom playing a game in Toronto might feel like a long shot right now just considering all the circumstances at hand. But, a little over seven months since his diagnosis, the fact that Lindblom could be one of the Flyers' 31 players for the tournament, practice and maybe even get into a game is absolutely astounding.
Bravo to that kid and bravo to the Flyers.
"He always has a smile on his face. He's always positive. Tremendous team orientation. It's always about the team. He's always worried about others. And he's a hell of a hockey player."
- Chuck Fletcher on Oskar Lindblom— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) July 22, 2020
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