Thursday, September 20, 2007
Big Busts (Get Your Mind Out Of The Gutter)
Quasi-respected columnist for ESPN.com Terry Frei wrote a ridiculous column today that calls Eric Lindros a "bust" who was "under-achieving and starcrossed."
Now as those close to me know, I really hate the bastard. (Lindros, not Frei.)
But I find myself in the uncomfortable position of standing up for the non-jersey wearing, hated wash-up. But while I cheered louder than many when he got creamed by Scott Stevens, by no means was Lindros a bust.
One of the many definitions of bust, and the most appropriate one in this case, is "A failure; a flop". Now Eric Lindros never won a Cup and never lived up to the hype he had when he came into the league, by no means was he a failure. Lindros averaged more than a point per game for nine of his 14 NHL seasons. He also had eight seasons of over a hundred PIM, befitting a power forward of his nature. I mean, his numbers are pretty surprising (check 'em out here) but by no means those of a failure.
Frei harps on him saying that he had "unrealized potential" but you can say that for thousands of hockey players. Lindros, much like Cam Neely, Pavel Bure and Keith Primeau, had his career basically ended by injury and yet they are all lauded as heroes while Frei is dogging Lindros. The only difference I can see is that they knew when to hang up the skates and Lindros didn't.
When the former Legion of Doomer came to the Leafs and the Rangers, he was clearly a shell of the player he had been. The number and severity of concussions he endured made the powerful force of nature into a timid child crossing the blue line and working along the periphery. It was infuriating to watch as a Rangers fan and I prayed he would be knocked to his senses and get the hell off of the Garden ice. He didn't and now it looks like he will be forced into retirement. But looking back how can anyone in their right mind combine the word 'bust' with Lindros?!??!
I mean, here are five guys who truly were busts right off the top of my head:
*Pavel Brendl (4th in 1999 - I walked out of the Rangers draft day party when they announced that one)
*Alexandre Volchkov (4th in 1996 - he didn't like American and ran back to Russia)
*Jason Bonsignore (4th in 1994 - A Glen Sather special - proving he lost whatever magic he had when he drafted the cornerstones of the dynasty back in the 80s.)
*Alexander Daigle (1st overall in 1993 - god what a waste, I saw him play an AHL game and he was incredible - natural talent but nothing else)
*Dave Chyzowski (2nd in 1989 - nice work Islanders)
Now I think you would agree that a Hart Trophy winner doesn't exactly fit in that company. Now I don't agree with those who see him in the Hall of Fame (which rapidly became the Hall of Very Good prior to the lockout) but those inside of the game think that he still has a lot to contribute as part of the Players Association so should he rightly (finally) call it quits, I will wish him good riddance, I mean, good luck in his new position.
I will remember him not putting on the Nords jersey when he was drafted, I will remember him as the powerful force that hammered the post-Cup Rangers and I will remember him as the impotent sissy when he donned a Blueshirt. But one thing I will not remember him as is a bust.