Eric Lindros happy just to be another face in Dallas dressing room

The Canadian Press
The Hockey News

Eric Lindros happy just to be another face in Dallas dressing room

The Canadian Press

In Philadelphia and New York, Lindros was the star, the man expected to deliver a Stanley Cup. Last season in Toronto he was the prodigal son returning home to live out a childhood dream of playing for the Maple Leafs. In Dallas, the expectations are different.

Lindros is part of the team, not its leader. He's also playing in a market where hockey ranks behind football and basketball.

"It's a change," Lindros, 33, said Monday, before the Stars played the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place.

"I'm not going to say one is any better than the other. It's just the other side of the fence. It's a little quieter as a hockey player."

After being the centre of so much noise in his career, Lindros seems to be basking in the silence.

In the first 13 games of the season Lindros led the Stars with eight assists and was tied for the scoring lead with 11 points.

"I think he understood coming here he didn't have to be the centrepiece of the whole situation," said centre Mike Modano. "We've never thought that about anybody who has come here.

"If anything, it's more humbling when you come here. Nobody is better than anybody else."

Lindros has been shifted to right wing from centre. He's spent the last couple of games playing on a line with Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow.

Coach Dave Tippett said Lindros seems content being a link in the chain.

"I think part of it is he's not the main guy," said Tippett, who played with Lindros on the Canadian Olympic team at the 1992 Albertville Games and with the Flyers.

"We're not asking him to be our go-to guy or anything. He's not the guy everybody looks at every day. He's just another player for our team that is playing well."

Lindros is soft spoken and careful with his words. He doesn't like talking about the past and wants to focus on the upcoming season.

The London, Ont., native admits last year in Toronto wasn't a happy one. A wrist injury resulted in him playing only 33 games.

"It was frustrating," said Lindros. "To be hurt before Dec. 15, that's not a whole lot of fun.

"To go down to the Air Canada Centre on a Saturday for a pre-game skate, just the feeling in the city whenever there is a hockey game, it's something special. It's something I'll look back on and say it was a special moment. (Now) I'm moving on."

During his career Lindros has been a No. 1 draft pick, an NHL MVP and won an Olympic gold medal for Canada at the 2002 Salt Lake Games.

Through all that, he has played in only one Stanley Cup final, being part of the Flyers team that lost to Detroit in 1997.

Modano thinks Lindros still has something to prove.

"There is a lot of hunger for him, just to bounce back from injuries and get back to the level he wants to play at," said Modano. "And to have the chance to possibly make something happen in the spring."

As a free agent last summer, Lindros had offers from both Toronto and Edmonton.

Lindros said the Oilers were attractive but instead he signed with Dallas, agreeing to a contract with a US$1.55-million base salary. Bonuses and incentives could increase that by another US$1-million.

"It was a crazy weekend," Lindros said. "Things happened extremely quickly. I'm happy to be where I am at."

Injuries have cast a shadow over Lindros's career. He's battled through concussions, knee problems and a collapsed lung.

Tippett said Lindros's health hasn't been a concern in Dallas.

"He just goes out and plays hard," said Tippett.

"He has a little bit of history of injuries and that's just the way it is. He's no different than any other player. You take the risk of getting injured but, until you do, you keep playing."


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Eric Lindros happy just to be another face in Dallas dressing room