Eric Lindros Not Ready for the Hockey Hall of Fame

1 Sep 1996:  Goaltender Roman Mega of Slovakia makes a blocker save as Eric Lindros #88 of Canada goes for the deflection during the first period of their World Cup of Hockey game at the Corel Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Mandatory Credit: Gray Mort

The Eric Lindros Hockey Hall of Fame question is a fun one.

On the one hand, you have a guy who put up solid numbers for most of his career.

On the other, you have a guy who didn’t live up to his potential and the expectations of the hockey world.

But on the other hand, weren’t those expectations almost impossible to live up to?

People have mused over Lindros’ Hall-worthiness since he retired.

Drew Silverman says Lindros was very good, but very good doesn’t cut it for the Hall.

Jamie Bell brings up the idea that Lindros can get into the Hall on some kind of injury exemption. Lindros’ concussions forced him to miss games which lowered his numbers. Bell also brings up Lindros’ work for Team Canada as a mitigating factor in the upcoming Hall of Fame acceptance verdict.

Pierre LeBrun is for Lindros in the Hall, just because of how Lindros dominated at the beginning of his career. It’s almost like a reverse Sandy Koufax, I guess.

I’m a huge Lindros fan. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy with so much strength and size with such great hands. He could bully the puck past the goalie at the crease (when he actually ventured into the crease) but he could also use his reach and hands to sweep the puck around the goalie, manipulating the puck like he controlled it with his mind.

On the whole, Lindros never lived up to the hype, but he would have moments where he did, and those moments were breathtaking. We think of beautiful hockey as finesse and deking and speed but Lindros could create beauty with size and strength and intelligence.

He never seemed particularly aggressive. He just seemed like someone who had learned to use his huge body to score goals, but not to throw checks.

Of course, maybe if he had had to evolve a more physical game, maybe he would have learned to keep his head up more often, and maybe he would have had less concussions.

And that’s ultimately Lindros’ legacy. No matter what he accomplished in the game, it’s not enough for us. We’re always left with the feeling there could have been more. More Cups (or any Cups). More goals scored. More games played.

A lot of the responsibility for these expectations falls on the Lindros camp, whose constant contract demands created a bar he could never reach.

But watching Lindros, even if you knew nothing of his contract history, you were left with the sense something was holding him back from reaching his full potential. Maybe it was the fear of concussions. Maybe it was a fear of getting too physical. Or maybe he just didn’t know how to tap into that potential.

Lindros was a great player but also a fascinating one. But that doesn’t make him Hall-worthy.

Unless it’s the Sports Psychology Hall of Fame.