February 04, 2016

Lars Lindgren

Lars Lindgren played five seasons for the Vancouver Canucks, and another with the Minnesota North Stars. He was a skilled, puck-moving defenseman out of Sweden, with surprising strength.

Lindgren scored 25 goals (and 113 assists for 138 points) in 394 games. But most fans will remember him for a goal he scored that he did not get credit for.

That's because Lindgren spectacularly scored on his own net.

The Canucks held a rare 3-2 lead against Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers - in Edmonton nonetheless. Then, with just nine seconds left in the game, Thomas Gradin cleanly won a faceoff in his own zone. The puck went right to Lindgren, who promptly attempted to fire the puck around the boards and behind his net.

Somehow he accidentally fired it right past into his own net,  past shocked goalie Ken Ellacott. The game ended in a 3-3 tie.

"I guess it will be goal of the week," he said post-game. "I guess I'll see the replay too many times."

He also found the funny side of it all.

"Actually, we were feeling bad for Edmonton," he joked. "Everyone said we are nothing without Richard Brodeur and this would have meant we beat them without him playing. I shot in our net so they wouldn't feel too bad."

Lindgren got a lot of embarrassing press over the misplay and overshadowed a strong NHL career for the former Modo star.

Lindgren was originally scouted by Babe Pratt, a Hall of Fame defenseman himself. With Pratt's recommendation the Canucks signed both Lindgren and Lars Zetterstrom.

Zetterstrom did not stick around long, but Lindgren very quietly became a pillar of the Canucks defense over the next five years.

He arrived as a mature 25 year old just off of a strong performance at the 1977 World Championships.

In his sophomore NHL season was selected as Vancouver's representative at the 1980 NHL All Star Game

Then he gained a reputation as a tough customer when he gave Wayne Gretzky a shot during the 1981 Canada Cup.

Not afraid to mix it up, he could handle himself on his own in the NHL. But he was far from a tough guy. His forte was solid defense and removing opponents from the puck. Once he retrieved it he could make clever passes to clear the zone. He could play on both special teams, and was particularly utilized on the Canucks strong penalty kill unit at the time.

Lindgren was also a notable contributor to the Canucks surprising run to the 1982 Stanley Cup finals, especially considering veterans Kevin McCarthy, Rick Lanz and Jiri Bubla missed the playoffs entirely with injuries.

Lindgren returned to Sweden in 1984 and played several more seasons. He briefly coached in Sweden and has been a long time European scout for the Canucks.

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