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October 09, 2014

Can Hometown Hockey Save Eric Lindros?

This season former Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean is hosting a new Sunday night hockey show called Hometown Hockey.

The show has real promise. Each week Ron MacLean sets up the show in a different Canadian town and does what Ron MacLean does best - celebrates the game at the grassroots level, while presenting high quality storytelling. In other words, Rogers' hockey programming, at least on Sunday nights, will be "very CBC-like."

In the first edition on October 12th, MacLean and the CBC gang go to London, Ontario and celebrate the OHL Knights, Darryl Sittler and Eric Lindros.

MacLean blogged about, previewing his feature presentation on Lindros:

Eric recalled the endless hours he and his dad Carl had spent working on their backyard rink, “That little bit of heaven,” perfecting one-timers and deflections and working on his favourite drill, The Circle. Eric would skate in a circle and receive passes from his father, first on his forehand, then on the back. His job was to handle the pass and quickly get a shot on goal. Later they would switch places and Eric would pass to a moving target. This would go on for hours and hours on end.

On Saturdays, they would practice until just before leaving for Eric’s house league hockey. Yes, Eric started in house league, using second hand equipment. He was growing at such a pace new gear was just not an affordable option. And clearly it was not required.

This got me thinking - is this finally the turning point for Eric Lindros? He was hockey's dominant player in the post-Gretzky and post-Lemieux world, albeit far too briefly due to concussions and other serious injuries like damaged knees and a collapsed lung. The public never like him because he was easy not to like. While controversies dogged him, he was cast as a monstrous villain. And, as the holier-than-though Hockey Hall of Fame committee continues to show, he never got the respect he deserved as hockey's top player or the sympathy he deserved for the price he paid to the game.

Perhaps Ron MacLean's visit to London, Ontario this weekend will cast Eric Lindros in a different light. Perhaps now the public will be willing to forgive him for all the concussions and injuries that we now realize are so scary and dangerous. Perhaps now the pressure will grow on the public, and therefore the Hockey Hall of Fame, to recognize Eric Lindros for what he rightfully is - one of the greatest hockey legends.

Lindros might not really care about that. He is using this event to further the fight against concussions. He is the celebrity emcee for a fundraising gala in London for the See The Line project. a collaboration between Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry and London’s hospitals and research institutes that focuses on concussions. See The Line seeks to reduce the number of concussions and to educate people on the issue. It’s a world-class initiative that’s based in London.

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