Eric Lindros was supposedly a huge a-hole as a rookie
Eric Lindros was apparently an enormous jackass during his rookie season in the NHL, at least to one particular referee. Former NFL player and official Paul Stewart wrote an entertaining column for the Huffington Post recently to share some tales from his officiating career. You may never see Lindros in the same light again after hearing one of Stewart’s stories.
Stewart says he was working a home-and-home between the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils during Lindros’ rookie season in 1992. The first game “got chippy” as time winded down, and Lindros and Scott Stevens were given roughing penalties in the final five minutes of the third period. Lindros must have held a grudge, because here’s what Stewart says happened before the second game:
The start of the game at the Spectrum was delayed several minutes. I had to wait for the red light on the scorer’s table to indicate that the broadcast had returned from a commercial and it was OK to drop the opening faceoff.
During the delay, I made small talk with several of the Devils and Flyers on the ice. I said hello to Mark Recchi and talked to Bernie Nicholls. I then tried to greet the 19-year-old rookie Lindros.
“Hey, Eric. How are things going? How’s your dad?” I asked.
The response: “[Bleep] you. Just drop the [bleeping] puck already.”
Lindros was apparently in a bad mood because he’d recently missed 12 games with a knee injury, the team was in a losing skid, and he’d had a tough game in New Jersey. This game was also played about a week after Lindros had to go to court in Toronto after the Koo Koo Bananas incident. You know what? Those were his problems, not mine. But we were about to have a mutual problem.
If the story ended there, you would probably just think Lindros was a punk kid who wasn’t in the mood to chat. But it got worse. Stewart says he gave Lindros a high-sticking penalty right off the opening face-off and didn’t let him get away with anything because of his poor attitude. Lindros allegedly decided to get even in a classless way.
Before the game, I had brought a tube filled with posters to Flyers’ equipment manager Jim “Turk” Evers. The posters, which depicted Recchi and Lindros, were to be autographed and then donated to a charity auction. I had done a similar thing in other cities, such as a Cam Neely and Ray Bourque poster in Boston, and a Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in Pittsburgh.
After the game, I want to Turk to collect the poster tube.
“Stewy, you’re not going to like this,” Evers said. “I don’t have them.”
“What do you mean you don’t have them?” I asked.
“Well, Rex signed the posters but when Eric found out they were for you, he tore every one of them up. I’m sorry about that.”
I never spoke to Eric Lindros again.
Telling the ref “f— you” before the game is a dick move, but did Lindros have to take it out on a charitable cause. It’s one thing to refuse to autograph the posters, which would still be uncalled for. But ripping them up? Come on, man.