Chuck Fletcher became choked up.
He was thinking about Oskar Lindblom, the young player's cancer diagnosis and the fight ahead.
“It’s been tough, it’s been a tough week — 23-year-old kid," the Flyers' general manager said. "It’s been tough, tough for all of us."
The Flyers were on a three-game road trip when they found out that Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that occurs in bones or in the soft tissue around the bones. It was stunning news for the entire organization.
"The Oskar situation is pretty scary and sobering," Fletcher said Tuesday. "I put that on a different level than wins and losses in hockey.”
But Fletcher and the Flyers had a reason to smile Tuesday — Lindblom's smile.
Lindblom welcomed the team back to the Wells Fargo Center, greeting his teammates at morning skate in preparation for a game against the Ducks.
"It was great to see him again," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "It was emotional to see him again.”
The Flyers' dressing room was in high spirits following an 0-3-0 road trip full of different emotions.
"Today I think was great because he left Denver and probably didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to everybody there before he left," Fletcher said. "Everyone is concerned, this transcends hockey. But he’s here, he’s getting great care and I suspect our energy level will be pretty good here.
“It’s great to see him today. His teammates care deeply about him and, as an organization, we’ll do whatever we can to help him."
Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault smiled and said Lindblom was tempted to skate today. Seeing the Swedish native's smile gave the Flyers their "best day," Vigneault said, since they received word of Lindblom's diagnosis in Denver.
I see Oskar here today, I think for him it was great. Cleared his mind, was around his friends. ... I know for me and I know for the team, it was the best thing that could happen for us.
It was great. I’ve been texting with Oskar the last few days. We knew he was coming in, we felt that it was important for him and especially important for his teammates to see him. He’s got tremendous amount of support from his family but also from his extended family — the Flyers, the Flyers players and their wives, and the coaches and their wives and the great fans that we have here in Philly and across the states that are going to support him.
Hockey is a real strong and real good community, and Oskar is a real good person and a real strong person. He’s going to be around, he’s going to be back as soon as he possibly can.
#OskarStrong pic.twitter.com/omreDYgiHo— Taryn Hatcher (@TarynNBCS) December 17, 2019
#OskarStrong— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) December 17, 2019
(📷 from Flyers PR guru Joe Siville) pic.twitter.com/LVBRof5HO2
Från representationslagen till U16. Från och med i kväll - och resten av säsongen.— Brynäs IF (@Brynas) December 17, 2019
Vi kämpar med dig, Oskar!
📝 https://t.co/CI3aBB4kgj pic.twitter.com/MqnqggWFhz
MÄKTIGT!❤️👏 Cancersjuke Oskar Lindblom stöttas och hyllas av hela Hovet under powerbreaket! @Brynas @DIFHockeyse #shl #twittpuck pic.twitter.com/h6SUrrrK5q— C More Sport (@cmoresport) December 17, 2019
Vigneault wanted to share a special story that personifies Lindblom's character. While Lindblom was back in the Philadelphia area last week for testing and his eventual diagnosis, his teammate Travis Konecny was recovering from a concussion.
"With everything that is going on, he texted T.K. to find out how his head was going because of the concussion," Vigneault said. "That’s just the type of young man that we have — strong, he’s like the hockey community, he’s going to have a lot of support and he’s going to get through this.
“I really believe Oskar would want us to do our jobs the right way and that’s what we’re going to do — we’re going to stay focused, we’re going to continue to improve.”
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