Eric Lindros at the 1991 Canada Cup.
In order for elite athletes to achieve ultimate success, a certain amount (more for some, less for others) of selfishness is required.
In the case of Eric Lindros, being selfish brought about an inordinate amount of notoriety and scrutiny from the time he was a teenager.
How else could one explain his snubbing of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and the Quebec Nordiques?
He didn’t do it to force the long-standing establishments known as the OHL and NHL to change their by-laws. He wasn’t trying to make life better for his peers or those that would follow. As a colleague of mine at the NHL Network suggested, “he won’t exactly be remembered as the Curt Flood of hockey”.
Indeed, he did it for himself.
And hey, who am I to disagree with his approach? It just wouldn’t have been mine, that’s all.
Selfishness (or stubbornness) ultimately deprived Lindros of the career that many had anticipated.
He could have slightly altered his style early on to improve his chances of survival in the world’s best hockey league.
He could have learned from those around him in his first Canada Cup and subsequent international events how to become a better leader.
He could have been more forthright with the fans, via the media, that he was in fact able to think on his own, that his parents did not control him.
We expect and respect athletes needing certain character traits to become great, including selfishness.
But perhaps the hockey Gods thought this individual had just a little too much of it.
They could have allowed this once dominant force to walk away with the prize every player covets.
Two words that maybe tough for Lindros to live down in his post-playing years.
Brian Duff is a host of the NHL Network’s ‘On the Fly’ and host of Leafs Lunch on AM 640 Toronto Radio.