I apologize for making this a fan post- it was just too damn long to put into the conversation thread…
1. It is the easiest thing in the world to argue that the organization didn’t do enough to put stars around Lindros and also argue that all the star players around Lindros were stars because of Lindros. This allows you to say that the organization didn’t do enough to surround Lindros with talent regardless of who is on the line with him, or what they did because it was Lindros who “made them.” LeClaire scored 50 goals (or more) 3 times in his career, he scored 40 goals (or more) 5 times in his career. Sure, if you put him on a third line with Fleep Flop and Mir Meau he won’t put up those kind of numbers but in my opinion, at the height of his career, LeClaire would have been a 40-50 goal scorer on most of the 1st lines in the NHL. In fact, I think you could make as much of an argument that LeClaire improved Lindros’ game by creating time and space around the net, as you can the other way around. Either way they will be eternally linked because neither one of them did much of anything without the other.
2. Lindros was not “Mr. Clean” when it came to playing the game. After his 2nd or 3rd season the Flyers created a promotional video that was just him rolling over people. I remember watching this video with my friend who to this day will not talk to me about Lindros (he’ll talk hockey and Flyers with me just not Lindros) because I said after watching the video that Lindros was now marked. I hated that video (even though most everyone else loved it) and think to this day that it was the beginning of the end of Lindros’ career. The Flyers did bring in “goon” players too, I can’t remember any names offhand but they brought up a guy in 95-96 (or the year prior) Kostiansky (or something close to that) and his job was basically just to kill people. But above all of this Lindros was promoted as the complete package, the Flyers supposedly didn’t need to bring in “protection” because he could protect himself. That was a mistake made by BOTH the organization and by Lindros, whether or not Lindros and his family promoted him as this type of player (I’d sure as shit say they did), or he just passively accepted that promotion by the organization.
3. My point about the acquisition of Lindros needs to be CLEAR. Lindros did not just say “I don’t want to play for the Nordiques,” he said “I don’t want to play for the Nordiques and 15 other teams, here are the 4 or 5 teams I will play for…” This essentially created a bidding war between the few teams that Lindros said he would allow himself to be traded to. And I should say I am resisting the urge to compare Lindros and the Nordiques to Crosby and the Penguins (since both organizations and players were in such remarkably similar situations). The Flyers traded the following for Lindros:
Ron Hextall (on the downside of his career, still he’s won a Vezina, Hart, and Conn Smyth)
Chris Simon (there’s your “fighter” if he wasn’t such an ass)
Mike Ricci (never quite blossomed right as a 4th overall pick but this still hurts, he was my favorite Flyer at the time)
Kerry Huffman (had an awesome 91-92 season for a D-man… then…)
Steve Duchesne (also had an awesome 91-92 season)
Peter Forsberg (6th overall draft pick in 1991)
1st Round Pick in 1993 draft (Jocelyn Tibault later used in the acquisition of one Patrick Roy)
1st Round Pick in 1994
15,000,000 in cold hard cash.
Now, after trading away all of these pieces you are going to complain that the organization didn’t do enough to build the team around Lindros? They had to rip out the guts of the organization to get this guy. It is a credit BOTH to the organization in their ability to rebuild and to Lindros’ talent that they were ever able to compete in the 1994-1995 season. But my point about the other players brought up (Lemieux and Gretzky) should be clear now. The Oilers did not need to tear apart their organization in order to acquire Gretzky; nor did the Penguins need to tear apart their organization to acquire Lemieux. Those teams either had pieces in place already, and didn’t have to trade them away, or were able to utilize their draft picks in the following seasons to build around those players. The Flyers didn’t have much of either of those options after acquiring Lindros.