January 10, 2008

Who Was Better? Peter Forsberg vs. Eric Lindros

"No harm's done to history by making it something someone would want to read." - David McCullough.

It is funny how history is recorded sometimes.

Take the careers of Eric Lindros and Peter Forsberg. The two were similar players and their fates were forever intertwined even before either player made it to the NHL.

While Lindros will go down in the minds of many as a great disappointment highlighted by enduring controversies and unfulfilled expectations, Forsberg will go down as one of hockey's greatest warriors.

That's quite a difference in legacy considering the two had remarkably similar careers.

Here's the tale of the tape:


Forsberg Lindros
GP 697 760
G 248 372
A 623 493
Pts 871 865
PIM 678 1398
Hart Trophy 1 1
Pearson Trophy 0 1
Art Ross Trophy 1 1
All Star 3 2
Stanley Cup 2 0
Olympic Gold 2 1

There really isn't a whole lot of difference between the two. There was just six points difference between them. Both missed a ton of time due to their immense physical style of play which resulted deteriorating bodies betraying each of them.

And, most importantly, both flirted with being the game's most dominant player for periods of time.

The comparisons were inevitable of course. Lindros, the NHL's favorite villain, refused to report to the Quebec Nordiques and forced a trade. A trade with Philadelphia was eventually completed, headlining Forsberg, who was drafted 6 spots behind Lindros in 1991, as part of a huge package going to Quebec. From that moment on, the two men were inexorably linked.

The biggest differing point between the two is Stanley Cup championships. Forsberg and transplanted Nordiques won two while in Colorado. Lindros never did win a title, despite all of his efforts.

I think the Stanley Cup argument is a bit overblown. Yes, Forsberg was one of the greatest players in Stanley Cup history. But his three championships were aided by Joe Sakic, who some say is better than Forsberg. And then there was Patrick Roy, hailed as the greatest playoff goalie of all time. Lindros never had the supporting cast that Forsberg had.

When it comes right down to it, I say there is little to choose between Eric Lindros and Peter Forsberg. Lindros was always easy to dislike, which helps to stain his legacy. Forsberg's legacy is, in my opinion, a bit overrated if only due to the great supporting cast he enjoyed.

In reality, they had pretty equal careers, though history will suggest otherwise.

But I guess when it comes right down to it, if I were coaching and I had to choose only one of these two players to win game 7 with, I'd choose Forsberg because of his status as a playoff hero.

32 comments:

paulpuck22 said...

Forsberg and Colorado won 2 Stanley Cups

Robert L said...

Joe - there is a sizable difference between the two and it's called Stanley Cups - all that really matters.

Sorry, my friend - this is as cut and dried as Pronger versus Daigle!

Anonymous said...

I agree.... Lindros vs Forseberg is way closer than most people will admit.

Stanley Cups are won by the best team, not necessarily the best players. Lindros didn't have a Sakic or a Roy.

If you're comparing strictly personal statistics, then I say the two are a wash. If anything I give the edge to Lindros because of his double amount of penalty minutes and the over 100 more career goals.

Syd said...

Will you be updating Forsberg's stats after the games he played in 2008?

GP: 706
G: 249
A: 636
PTS: 885
PIM: 686

Mike said...

I still contest that Lindros was the better player, while Forsberg enjoyed the better career. The difference between the two isn't much, however.

Lindros' pure goal scoring ability meant that he needed no one to be effective. Forsberg was also a quality goal scorer, but his unselfish play coupled with his natural playmaking ability made him somewhat predictable. This point became extremely apparent in Forsberg's second season with the Flyers.

Another advantage Lindros had on Forsberg was his faceoff ability. Both drew the best faceoff-men the opposing team could offer, but it was Lindros who could win well over 50% of his faceoffs with frightening regularity. Forsberg, I don't think, won more than 50% of his faceoffs during a single season until he was coached by Ken Hitchcock. This deficiency is probably what prevented Forsberg from having a bigger role on Colorado's PK.

The one significant edge Lindros had on Forsberg was his ability to fight. Beukeboom, Odelein, Stevens, Boughner, McSorely, Simon, to be able to hold your own against any one of those players is an accomplish in itself.

So there you have it... yeah.

Timbo said...

This is not a close call. 1st, 2 Stanley Cups -- kind of a big deal (not to mention Olympic Golds -- in fact one of 3 in hockey history to have 2 of each & 2 WCs).

Lindros was a very good player but Forsberg was simply dominant -- during the regular season. In the playoffs, Olympics (with the pros), or whenever the pace of play picked up to a world-class level, the difference was stark. Forsberg simply could not be contained, no matter whom you put on him.

Sakic was a great player -- but Forsberg always drew the other team's best D-men (see, Bowman, Scotty, Hitchcock, Ken, etc.). He's a great scorer, but what has Sakic won without Peter? Coaches don't lie in terms of whom they put on the ice when the game is on the line, not the successful ones, anyway.

Or, ask the most-respected players, intelligent, honest guys who all competed with and/or against both (Keith Jones, Ron Francis, Ray Ferraro)--to a man they maintain Peter the Great was THE dominant player of their era--who are we, as spectators, to argue?

Clutch games, big-time players, and big-time coaches -- it's very clear who their choice is, and not just against Eric Lindros. And it's pretty unanimous, too. At his best, there was, quite simply, none better.

Anonymous said...

lindros was the better player. just because he never won a cup. superstars need other players to win. compare the avalanche verse the flyers team that went to the cup and there is no comparision. the avalanche had the better team not the better player. roy vs hextall? please! sakic, bourque and countless other superstars. put lindros on the avalanche and forsberg on the flyers and the flyers still would be waiting for a cup not the avalanche.

Joe Pelletier said...

Re: put lindros on the avalanche and forsberg on the flyers and the flyers still would be waiting for a cup not the avalanche.

Funny enough, Lindros had that exact chance, and he chose not to pursue it.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding??? You're comparing the greatest two way player that has ever played to a guy that doesn't know how to keep his head up when playing??? Numbers don't mean anything my friend... Peter never had a season in the minuses, made players like Hejduk win the Maurice Richard trophey... I could probably score 40 goals playing alongside Forsberg!
I guess you can compare numbers and it seems fun cause they were involved in a trade but the comparison stops there... Hey Mike, you need some Hockey teachings... ability to fight??? Is that how you compare players??? What a joke!

Timbo said...

Exactly, Anonymous - is this a joke?! Whether you ask the most successful coaches or the most intelligent players of their era [Bowman, Hitchcock, Sutter, etc. or Ron Francis, Keith Jones, Ray Ferraro] - it's not even a close call, Peter Forsberg was THE dominant player of his era, and perhaps the best two-way player ever!

Well, we could ask the players and coaches - or listen to blog posters, who I'm sure know much more about hockey...

Zach said...

I don't see very much of an argument. Forsberg wins by far. Lindros had seven unbelievable years with the flyers, and then his career slowly declined. Forsberg could be considered the best player from lockout to lockout, starting with a calder trophy and getting the hart and art ross on the second to last year before the lockout. The biggest difference is that Forsberg's numbers didn't drop off as fast as lindy's did. Peter has more points in less games then lindros. Forberg is also a member of the Triple Gold Club which means he has a stanley cup, an olympic gold medal, and a world championship. Actually, he is one of three people to be a member of the triple gold club twice. And did lindy score the game winning penalty shootout goal in the 1994 olympics for the gold against Canada? And svergie got on a postage stamp for that. In lindros’ highest scoring year he got 115 points, and how many did foppa have? A convenient 116. However, lindy could light people up, never should drop the gloves with him unless you want to have a 6’4’’monster pounding your face in. And Lindy’s performance from 1992-1999 was probably one of the highest scoring personal performances ever. The biggest difference between the two is respect for the game of hockey. Lindy held out since he did not want to play for a subpar team, and even said he would never play for them. He was the only decision maker for himself, a very “me first” guy. Forsberg on the other hand was one of the most humble players to play and always wanted to help others reach the spotlight. When he left the aves after the lockout he joined up with simon gagne and mike knuble. Those two had decent years, but they would get their statistically best years with Forsberg at the helm. Forsberg’s points-per-game is a 1.254 (8th all-time), Lindros is a 1.138 (16th all-time), and Sakic has a 1.191 (12th all-time), though sakic played in almost more games than both of the other two combined. And some say Forsberg was a byproduct of sakic. Well lindy got his Olympic gold as a byproduct of mvp joe sakic, and Forsberg earned two without sakic and roy. Sakic had his two highest scoring season while Forsberg was with him. Although realistically, Sakic was better than both Lindros and Forsberg(, and the majority of all nhlers for that matter). Forsberg is currently playing for MoDo hockey, his hometown club team that got him his start, and he’s doing it for free! Could anyone imagine lindy doing something like that? Now, Eric Lindros was one of the best to play the game, I can definitely say that, but Peter Forsberg’s pure talent and his ability to rise to the occasion trump anything lindy can bring to the table.
PS-Lindros doesn’t remember how to play hockey after scott stevens blew his brains out. Don’t piss off scott stevens, a word to the wise.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding? Peter Forsberg is one of the greatest to ever play the game. He won titles. He was unstoppable during Playoffs. He had eyes in the back of his neck. He could do f*g anything with the puck!
This post is a joke and the ones who say Lindros was better don't know what they're talking about.
Lindros was a great player with a big ego. Forsberg was fierce, rock hard and a team player who made his team mates look good.
You should actually remove this post and be ashamed for ever bringing it up.

Cameron said...

I'm with Lindros on this one. He was much more physically imposing than Forsberg (ask Ulf Samuellsson), scored more goals, and never had anything like the supporting cast that Forsberg did.

Add in that Lindros could and would fight even the heaviest of heavyweights and you have to give Lindros the edge.

Hall Of Famer said...

I think Lindros was very unlucky to not have won a stanley cup in his career as i think he was in teams with players that weren't able to live up to his standards.

Anonymous said...

My opinion may not matter, but Forsberg's skill was in feeding the puck to other players. I've played hockey for 20 years and have been a fan for much longer. I coach and pour over video often.

Forsberg is the best passer I've ever seen. Bar none. Stats back that up. He's ranked fourth in NHL history in "assists per game" behind Gretzky, Lemuix and Orr. That's it. None better.

The fact that he's top 20 in goal scoring as well as top 10 in playoff scoring, as well as top 10 in playoff overtime scoring, as well as top 10 in playoff game winning goals...

Sheesh. Did someone say that Forsberg wasn't physically imposing? He seldom dropped the gloves (hence the lower PIM numbers), but please go let the 1998 Red Wings or the 1996 Panthers know that Forsberg isn't physically imposing. I think they're still looking for those missing teeth.

Anonymous said...

He played 60 games more than Forsberg who still have more points than him. Forberg is ninth point-per-game in the history of NHL. and fourth assist-per game after Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr.

seeing these guys in the more talent friendly NHL post latest lockout, they would pull of even bigger numbers, crybabies like crosby would struggle to surive post lockout, due to the fact that the defense men literary could mangle you.

Anonymous said...

We're talking about INDIVIDUAL talent

TEAMS win Cups


Lindros vs Forsberg?

Flip a coin...

Resolute said...

Ahh yes, the old, and stupid, "he won more cups so is a better player" argument. The same one that suggests Matt Cooke is a better hockey player than Alexander Ovechkin...

Anonymous said...

Forsberg, hands down. Most of Lindros' talent lay in the fact he was a freakin monster. Forsberg did all the same and more as an average sized man!

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge Flyers fan and that trade still hurts today. It's not even close, Forsberg was a complete player and one of the greatest we'll ever see. Lindros was very talented but over hyped. Forsberg would have won a cup anywhere he played.

Anonymous said...

At every level Forsberg won. He stepped on the ice and won games. How many gold medals? How many championships? How many Stanley Cups?

Yes, he had a strong team around him but who cares. Forsberg was a huge piece of all those winning teams.

If he played an inch less physical, he might not have one won cup. If he played less intense, he might have less medals.

Lindros played on superstar teams including Canada... the difference is how valuable are you to your team.

I like a player who is clean, but physical and aggressive but can also put up points.

I think Peters PPG, Championships does all the talking...

Seb Renaud said...

I put it this way:

Would the Flyers proceeded to trade Forsberg for Lindros if they had thought he would turn out that well?

My answer is: they would have kept him. The proof of that is that they went and picked him up years after the trade.

In my opinion, Forsberg had more heart than Lindros as well as a better team player.

Since the team is what is important in hockey, that it makes him more valuable to have.

Individual honors arent as important to the fans when it comes down to the team's success.

Marty Buckley said...

This is clearly an old post but I felt the need to comment anyway.

I thought it was odd that Lindros only was an All Star twice so I checked. He was actually a 6 time all star (94, 96, 97, 98, 99, 00).

Also Forsberg was a 7 time All Star (96, 97, 98, 99, 00, 01, 03).

I am a HUGE Flyers fan so I was lucky enough to cheer both of these guys on. I think more people will lean towards Forsberg but it is definitely closer than people think.

A lot of folks are saying the Flyers would have kept Forsberg in hind sight, which may be true. However, I think its not that simple. If it wasn't for Lindros, the Flyers might still be playing at the Spectrum and we might not be one of the richest franchises in the league. Obviously, Forsberg was a great player but those Colorado cup teams had much more talent than the Flyers ever had. Sakic and Roy are Hall of Famers. I think Mark Recchi would be the closest Lindros gets to that type of career talent.

So I'm not sure Forseberg alone could have done what Lindros did for the Flyers organization. We are a GREAT hockey city and havent won a cup since '75. A lot of that can be contributed to the Big E.

Anonymous said...

This is clearly an old post but I felt the need to comment anyway.

First, I thought it was odd that Lindros only was an All Star twice so I checked. He was actually a 6 time all star (94, 96, 97, 98, 99, 00).

Also Forsberg was a 7 time All Star (96, 97, 98, 99, 00, 01, 03).

Second, I think Zach makes great arguments as to why Forsberg is better player. But I am a HUGE Flyers fan, so I was lucky enough to cheer both of these guys on. I think more people will lean towards Forsberg but it is definitely closer than people think. And now with the awareness on how serious concussions can be, Lindros' drop in production can clearly be linked to that. So I think you really need to look at each guy in their prime.

A lot of folks are saying the Flyers would have kept Forsberg in hind sight, which may be true. However, I think its not that simple. If it wasn't for Lindros, the Flyers might still be playing at the Spectrum and we might not be one of the richest franchises in the league. Obviously, Forsberg was a great player but those Colorado cup teams had much more talent than the Flyers ever had. Sakic and Roy are Hall of Famers. I think Mark Recchi would be the closest Lindros gets to that type of career talent. I think it's interesting to think how different Eric's career would have been if he stayed in Quebec and played with Sakic, Sundin, Nolan, and Deadmarsh.

I'm not sure Forsberg alone could have done what Lindros did for the Flyers organization. We are a GREAT hockey city and havent won a cup since '75. A lot of that is thanks to Big E.

Joe Pelletier said...

Playing in the All Star game does not make you an all-star, by my definition. Being named to the First or Second All Star team at the end of the season is where the real all stars are honoured.

Anonymous said...

Линдрос круче конечно. From Russia

Anonymous said...

Forsberg is 8th all-time regular season points per game and 11th all time in the playoffs.

Having better team-mates doesn't change that Forsberg dominated the play every time he was on the ice. His body basically disintegrated he played so hard. No question Forsberg was one of the most dominant players in the league throughout his career.

Also a member of the triple gold club (Olympic and world championship golds and a Stanley cup) 2 times over!

PrometheusPhamarus said...

this is quite old, have to add
some junior world champ facts..

Peter holds an all time record of 31 points in 7 games (1992)
Hard to beat.

And every time I saw him enter the swedish team, it ment a huge difference in wins, but also
how the game was played overall, those passes like hot knife through butter might only be equal done by the Great Gretzky.
Ranking best players in the world is too hard to compare and very hard to do justice by, Giving Peter the credit of being one of the most talented,skilled,competitive player ever is fair enough.
Mike

Anonymous said...

I like how all the people keep saying that Forsberg was UNSTOPPABLE during the playoffs. Yeah he was UNSTOPPABLE until he ran into the Wings. How many times did he lose to them and beat them once in 01? Don't get me wrong, Forsberg is a hall of famer, but Lindros would be too with Roy and Sakic. More than any other sport on the planet, hockey is a team sport and no one can do it on their own, that's why Gretzky didn't win any more. At the prime of their careers Lindros was the better player and really a complete wrecking force. However, they are both brittle and Forsberg enjoyed the better career with a better team. I'm not trying to take anything away from him, but he had a lot more help than Lindros did, but he was also healthier too and that does matter. If I could choose who to pick in a game 7 and both were in their prime, I would take Lindros, he could bulldoze and score like crazy!

Anonymous said...

Lindros never won the Art Ross!

He tied in points but lost out on goals to Jagr. Jagr was awarded the Art Ross.

Evan Brodsky said...

Hmm...this is a very interesting discussion. I bet hockey fans will be discussing the differences between Forsberg "Foppa" and Lindros "Lindy" for the next...well for a long time. I want to start out with saying that I'm a big flyers fan.

I agree with a bunch of comments posted. Lindy and Foppa were both excellent players. They were comparable hockey players. They were both physical, great scorers who led their team, passionate, controlled play, and were strong on the puck. Foppa was a finesse player with an imposing physicality while Lindy was more of a physically dominating player, who could score at will.

Foppa had 1.25 points/game as no. 8 overall while Lindy was only no. 16, which is still extremely impressive. Foppa had 2 cups, 2 gold medals, a couple WJC (1 in which he shattered the previous record scoring 31 points in 7 games), and a partirdge and a pear tree. Foppa's puck-handling, play-making ability was phenomenal.

Watching tons of video as a Flyers fan, I love hearing JJ (Jim Jackson for those of you who aren't die hard Flyers fans) state the phrase so many times Forsberg to Gagne for the goal. When Forsberg played in Philly toward the end of his career he was matched up with Gagne and Knuble for the Deuces Wild line. I think JJ pre-recorded the phrase Forsberg to Gagne. Foppa made evergone else around him better.

Lindy was so strong on the puck that it couldn't be stolen (unless dirty Devil's player Scott Stevens came to town), he was an excellent scorer, and carried the Flyers at times.

With all of this said, I think Foppa was a better player. I could go back and forth that Foppa had such and such a player with him on the avalanche and Lindy has this player on the Flyers, but that won't be as definitive as Foppa's herculean points/game production.

What it really comes down to is THE TRADE. Would the Avalanche have been as good if they didn't have all the players that the Flyers organization sent to the Nordiques in order to obtain Lindy. One could argue that a straight up trade between Foppa and Lindy would have been reasonable. However, the Flyers organization sent Peter Forsberg, Steve Duschene, Kerry Huffman, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, Philly’s first-round pick in 1993 and 1994, and $15 million in cash, just to make sure the deal was even. That's ludicrous. The Flyers organization still had the Broad Street Bullies mentality of beating your opponent into submission, which is why they wanted Lindy. Oh, and by the way, with all these players sent to the Avs, they obtained one of the best goalies to have ever played the game. Patrick Roy. As someone had previously posted, you can't win with only one player. Even though I'm a big Flyers fan, i feel that the Flyers organization made a mistake in shipping over so much talent for one player.

The Avs also had a terrific Captain in Joe Sakic who could play anywhere on the ice, any time, in any role. I hate to say it, but Foppa wasn't exactly Captain material.

So to summarize, yes both Foppa and Lindy were excellent players. Notably, Foppa was recently elected into the Hall of Fame, while Lindy was snubbed again. A straight up Lindy-Foppa trade would have been reasonable, but the Flyers organization practically gave everything to the Nordiques, even the kitchen sink, for one player. That's not a good move.

Anonymous said...

Love the discussion. Peter Forsberg was a play-making freak, probably the best hockey mind from 95-05 but Lindros was also a great goalscorer and physical hockey player worthy mentioning.

But really, Forsbergs talent and execution in periods is superior to Lindros and Sakic. Welcome to the HHOF Peter The Great!

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