01 September 2011
Let's do something that I'm sure Eric Lindros has done a few times since his retirement from the NHL in 2007. Let's imagine what might have been.
Say that Lindros never started this whole habit of draft-dodging and reported to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds instead of going to hide in Detroit until the OHL changed their rules to accommodate his (parents') desire to stay close to Toronto. He would have been just as great there as he was in Oshawa, and would still have gone first in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, still to the Quebec Nordiques.
"Quebec is like a beautiful little snowglobe! I want to live in the Frontenac and eat pommes frites!" Let's pretend he thought that exact thought when he heard his name called first overall, went up on that stage and actually put on the powder blue jersey, and ignored the politics or taxes or language or small market or whatever and reported to Quebec City in the fall.
And then let's imagine he was actually The Next One, just like the media dubbed him as a kid. What would the back of his Topps hockey card look like if he did follow a parrallel path to that of Gretzky's? Maybe something like this:
- I assumed Lindros played the same percentage of games as Gretzky did over his career. I know this is difficult to swallow, but imagine they brought in a McSorley for Lindros.
- I took Lindros' 1.14 points per game over his career and applied it to that amount of games, editing the numbers a bit to show an ascension and descension.
- I kissed a girl and I liked it.
So if Lindros could have stayed healthy, and could have stayed out of trouble/drama, and could have ended a similar career path to that of Gretzky's with the same points per game that he did anyway, he could have indeed been The Next One.
Who knows if the Stanley Cup would have found its way into his hands. I have to think that the way the Nordiques were Pittsburghing it with first round picks, aquiring Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, and Owen Nolan in the three drafts leading up to the Lindros draft, he would have had a great shot.
As far as personal records go, Lindros would be 8th in points all-time, 3rd in goals, 14th in assists, and 15th in penalty minutes.
So this was what was "supposed" to happen, but ultimately did not because of individual decisions that spider-webbed Lindros' life far from the path the rest of Canada had him pegged for. But I guess this is why they make movies like Jurassic Park, and Mr. Destiny:
Larry Joseph Burrows: Are you an angel or something?
Mike the Bartender at Universal Joint Bar: Not exactly, no.
Larry Joseph Burrows: Then what are you?
Mike the Bartender at Universal Joint Bar: Have you ever been faced with a decision, and you weren't sure what to do?
Larry Joseph Burrows: Yeah, sure, plenty of times.
Mike the Bartender at Universal Joint Bar: And then something inside you made you choose one direction over another?
Larry Joseph Burrows: Yeah. So?
Mike the Bartender at Universal Joint Bar: So that's me. I make the suggestions, and you make the choices. That's how destiny works, Larry - very subtly. Welcome to your new life, Larry. I hope you like it.