Eric Lindros has Swedish heritage. His great grandfather Axel immigrated from Sweden to Canada and Eric is the third generation of Lindroses to have been born in Canada. "Lindros" means "Rose of the Linden tree."
Lindros played for the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League for parts of three seasons from 1990 to 1992. During that time, he scored 97 goals and had 119 assists in 95 games played. He attended St. Michael's College School in Toronto with his brother and fellow hockey player, Brett Lindros.
A controversy arose when Lindros refused to go to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds after they drafted him. Lindros had already stated his intention not to join the Greyhounds, but Greyhounds owner Phil Esposito had drafted him anyway, enabling Esposito to sell his share in the team at a higher price. Lindros was traded to the Oshawa Generals instead, and when they played the Greyhounds, some Greyhound players wore black armbands in protest of Lindros' antics.
Lindros was selected first overall by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft. However, echoing the Greyhounds fiasco, Lindros refused to play for the Nordiques, and instead split the following season between the Generals and the Canadian national team. Eventually, he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, for whom he played from 1992 to 2000, most of the time as the team's captain.
Many consider this trade a key reason that the Colorado Avalanche, which the Nordiques became in 1995, went on to be an NHL powerhouse. They received in the trade Peter Forsberg, Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, Mike Ricci, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne, a 1st round selection (Jocelyn Thibault) in 1993, a 1st round selection (later traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, later traded to the Washington Capitals - Nolan Baumgartner) in 1994, and $15,000,000 cash. Since the trade, the Avalanche have won eight division titles and two Stanley Cups.
A large presence at over 6 feet 3 inches (1.9 m) tall and 230 pounds (104 kg), Lindros combines aggressive play with excellent skills, although hockey observers say he has lost his effectiveness due to injury, and the decline in production supports that theory. Lindros has suffered numerous concussions throughout his career. His younger brother Brett, who also played in the NHL, was forced into early retirement because of repeated concussions. Nicknamed the Next One, in reference to the Great One, and the Magnificent One, he never lived up to his billing as the next great Canadian hockey player, on par with Gretzky and Lemieux. The expectations were unrealistic at best, as Lindros was a great power forward rather than a excellent goalscorer or a playmaker.
Along with John LeClair and Mikael Renberg he played on the dreaded "Legion of Doom" line. He won the Hart Trophy as MVP in the lockout-shortened season of 1995, but in 1997, the Flyers were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup finals after the Flyers had run through their first three playoff opponents. Lindros' first goal of the Stanley Cup Finals came in Game 4, with the Flyers down 2-0 and minutes away from being swept.
Lindros had a bad relationship with Flyers General Manager Bobby Clarke, which was exacerbated during the 1999-00 NHL season. During an April game against the Nashville Predators, Lindros suffered what was diagnosed as a rib injury. Later that night, the teammate he was sharing a hotel with, Keith Jones, discovered Lindros lying in a tub, pale and feverish. Lindros was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital and it was discovered he had a collapsed lung. Lindros's parents, who had a history of being Eric's eyes and ears and speaking for him when it came to matters with the Flyers (including telling Clarke who should play on Lindros' lines), accused the Flyers team doctors of trying to kill Lindros and not diagnosing the injury properly. Lindros returned after being stripped of his captaincy in the Eastern Conference Finals, in which he played the final two games of the series, the latter of which Lindros suffered another concussion after a bone-jarring hit by New Jersey Devils player Scott Stevens. The Flyers lost the final game and the series, and Lindros became a restricted free agent during the off-season.
He refused to sign with the Flyers, who still owned his rights and refused to deal him to the Toronto Maple Leafs, as he preferred, and Lindros sat out the 2000-01 NHL season before being traded to the New York Rangers in 2001. Many Flyers fans saw the irony in Lindros going to the Rangers, since the Rangers had fought so hard to get him alongside the Flyers when he initially refused to play for Quebec. The Rangers in fact cried foul when the rights to Lindros were awarded to Philadelphia.
He played for the Rangers for the next three seasons. In 2004, Lindros sustained his eighth career concussion. He was given permission by a doctor to resume training; however, two doctors have suggested Lindros retire. He became an unrestricted free agent in that off-season. On August 11, 2005, after the NHL labour dispute had wiped out the 2004-05 season, Lindros signed a one-year, $1.55 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 2005-06 NHL season.
- Hart Memorial Trophy - 1995
- Lester B. Pearson Award - 1995
- Played in 6 All-Star Games - 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
- World Junior Championships - 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992
- Canada Cup - 1991 (gold)
- Winter Olympic Games - 1992 (silver), 1998, 2002 (gold)
- World Championships - 1993
- World Cup of Hockey - 1996