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Ex-NHL ref shares story about Eric Lindros being a huge jerk

- July 17th, 2014

Former NHL player and referee Paul Stewart published a column Wednesday over at the Huffington Post that included a few anecdotes about how he would temper escalating situations on the ice.

Stewart often tried to lighten the mood with a joke. Most of the time it would work. Even a hot-head like Theo Fleury had a sense of humour.

But the one player whom Stewart never built a rapport with was Eric Lindros.

Stewart explained why his first conversation with the rookie Philadelphia Flyers centre was also his last.

I was working an afternoon Philadelphia-New Jersey game at the Spectrum; the back end of a home-and-home. The Devils won the previous game, 6-4, in a game refereed by Mark Faucette. The game got chippy late in the third period, with about 40 penalty minutes being handed out in the final five minutes, including roughing penalties to Lindros and Scott Stevens in the waning seconds of the game.

The start of the game at the Spectrum was delayed several minutes. I had to wait for the red light on the scorer’s table to indicate that the broadcast had returned from a commercial and it was OK to drop the opening faceoff.

During the delay, I made small talk with several of the Devils and Flyers on the ice. I said hello to Mark Recchi and talked to Bernie Nicholls. I then tried to greet the 19-year-old rookie Lindros.

“Hey, Eric. How are things going? How’s your dad?” I asked.

The response: “(Bleep) you. Just drop the (bleeping) puck already.”

Lindros was apparently in a bad mood because he’d recently missed 12 games with a knee injury, the team was in a losing skid, and he’d had a tough game in New Jersey. This game was also played about a week after Lindros had to go to court in Toronto after the Koo Koo Bananas incident. You know what? Those were his problems, not mine. But we were about to have a mutual problem.

Right off the opening faceoff, Lindros bulled forward and drilled Nicholls under the chin with his stick. I ditched Lindros on a high-sticking penalty.

Before the game, I had brought a tube filled with posters to Flyers’ equipment manager Jim “Turk” Evers. The posters, which depicted Recchi and Lindros, were to be autographed and then donated to a charity auction. I had done a similar thing in other cities, such as a Cam Neely and Ray Bourque poster in Boston, and a Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in Pittsburgh.

After the game, I want to Turk to collect the poster tube.

“Stewy, you’re not going to like this,” Evers said. “I don’t have them.”

“What do you mean you don’t have them?” I asked.

“Well, Rex signed the posters but when Eric found out they were for you, he tore every one of them up. I’m sorry about that.”

I never spoke to Eric Lindros again.

One year, much later in his career when he was with the Rangers, I ended up getting him on eight minor penalties that season. I caught some heat for it from John Davidson on the Rangers’ broadcasts, but the truth of the matter was this: I did NOT go out of my way to “invent” penalties on Lindros — or any player — but I wasn’t going to give that guy a break on anything borderline that I might have let slide with a player who had gained acceptability with me.

I guess, uh, don’t rip a referee’s charity posters, kids.

Check out the rest of Stewart’s column if you want to read stories about Fleury and Chris Gratton.

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9 comments

  1. Nanaman | July 17, 2014 at 4:58 am

    Really? He was 18 at the time, and you bring it to people’s attention now? I’m almost the same age as Lindros, and I look back to when I was 18 … Boy, was I jerk in many situations…. But people change. I would have first like to have read where Stewart contacted him in the last year and told him how he felt. Then, if he was still a jerk, then you have a point. But, 20 years ago???? Wow!… Grow up, Stewart!

  2. Flint | July 17, 2014 at 6:37 am

    Ahh the Great Big E! NOT even close! I am so glad that he never got a Cup and the Quebec Nordiques went on to win after they went to Colorado. They would have never won with A**H*** Lindros on the team. Lindros on a team?? No way, its all about Eric isn’t it? He was never a team player after his idiot father told him he was godlike and didn’t have to go where he was drafted. Im so glad that his idiot brother did not make it to the NHL, two Lindros’ raised by the same A**H*** would have been hell for the NHL. I always hated all the dirty hits that Scott Stevens made, he would not be bale to play nowadays where skill is involved, but I wish his dirty hit on Lindros would have ended his career because he did not deserve the NHL career that he got to enjoy!

    You would swear that Lindors was an American with the attitude he has, he is an embarrassment to Canada and we don’t want him! He is just like Beiber, we don’t want him either.

    Tearing up posters for a charity? Class act Lindros! Wish Mr. Stewart would have let the world in on this when the Big A**H*** was still in the NHL. Mr. Stewart done the right thing, never speak to MR. A**H*** again and never give him a break again!!!

    I wanted to say more and use more choice words but my comment would be banned then, Lindros doesn’t deserve any ‘good’ words.

    Flint.

    PS, stay away from Newfoundland, we don’t want you here!!! Goes for Bieber too!!!

  3. mikel | July 17, 2014 at 9:50 am

    And that is just another reason why Lindros should never be in the HOF

  4. Inky Mark | July 17, 2014 at 10:26 am

    A young kid,s mistake, bet he wouldn,t do that again

  5. dave | July 17, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    stewart come off the bigger d*ck here. lets not pretend the father question was in anyway innocent, unless he knew both of them which clearly he doesnt. everyone knows lindros was getting all kinds of crap in the media about his parents.

    stewart then says he treated him differently while as an official. i didnt know players needed personal acceptance with officials to be treated the same way.

    sure lindros should not have ripped up posters but i think he was rightfully pissed at Stewart. he was only 19.

    whats stewarts excuse??

  6. Ali | July 17, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Stewart always had a reputation of being a bit of a dick, thinking he was the show. This piece here holding a grudge on a 19 year old really cements it. What a loser

  7. Ian | July 17, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Dave is pretty much dead on with his assessment of Stewart writing something like this. Vasquez-Peddie deserves some heat for the headline, too. Lindros played his heart out for Toronto, and he had a competitive edge rarely seen in hockey. No one had ever played or has ever played since Lindros when he was at his best. If you can’t appreciate that as a fan and you need to blast him for not assuming the bland, dispassionate persona of most hockey players and you need to slander him decades after the fact for something that may or may not have happened when he was 19, well, then you are an insecure and petty man.

  8. Rob | July 18, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    I really like reading Stewart’s columns but, wow, he does come off looking like a bit of a jerk. I mean, it was 9 years from his rookie year to when he played for the Rangers. That’s a long time to hold on to a grudge for a teenager being a teenager.

  9. Martin | July 20, 2014 at 4:32 am

    So many of you reply ‘…he was only 19′ or some sort of defense based on his age. Lindros was rude, and does not get a pass bcuz he was an age where too many boys are rude. Next, one of you faulted the ref when 9 years passed and PS still held a grudge. Yet you don’t fault Lindros for not apologizing. After all, he had those same 9 years to reflect. Lastly, one of you claims this is another reason to keep Lindros out of the HOF. This has nothing to do w his on ice performance and HOF credentials. Ironically you are the one being petty and holding grudges, something you guys held against Stewart.

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