Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Despite his steadfast and repeated warnings he would not play for them, the Quebec Nordiques drafted Eric Lindros with the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft on this day in 1991.
The Nordiques Pierre Page with Lindros at the 1991 NHL Draft
Lindros, perhaps the most hyped and anticipated player since Wayne Gretzky or perhaps even Bobby Orr, had already led the Oshawa Generals of the OHL to the 1990 Memorial Cup championship with 45 points in 21 playoff games, scored 149 points in 57 games for the Generals to lead the league in scoring in 1991 and was named the league MVP and the CHL Player of the Year.
Lindros with the Oshawa Generals
While Lindros was tearing up Canadian junior hockey, the Quebec Nordiques were the doormats of the NHL, having finished last overall in 1988-89 with 61 points, suffered through a dreadful 1989-90 season scoring a mere 31 points and "improved" to 46 points in 1990-91, earning the right to select first overall for the third consecutive year.
Having already refused to report to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in junior hockey, Lindros again made his wishes known that he had no intention of playing for the Nordiques due to several factors which did not meet his or his agent's satisfaction, including limited marketing potential, high tax rates in Quebec and the difficulties associated with the exclusively French speaking Quebec City.
With both sides at a standoff, the stubborn Nordiques selected him with the first overall pick anyway. The even more stubborn Lindros wasted no time in snubbing the Nordiques by refusing to wear the club's jersey for photos.
Lindros refusing to wear a Nordiques jersey at the draft
Undaunted, the Nordiques president Marcel Aubut announced that they would build the team around Lindros and refused to trade him, claiming he would not have a career in the NHL as long as he held out. Meanwhile, Lindros played for Team Canada in the 1991 Canada Cup, briefly returned to the Generals for 13 games prior to joining the Canadian National Team for 24 games, participating in the 1992 World Junior Tournament and then the 1992 Winter Olympics, so there was no shortage of places for him to play during his unprecedented standoff with the Nordiques despite their 10-year, $50 million contract offer.
Lindros skating for Canada during his year long holdout
Eventually, after his year long holdout, the Nordiques relented and traded Lindros at the draft in 1992. The problem was, they agreed to trade him on June 20, 1992 to both the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers in separate deals!
Eventually the NHL arbitrator would rule in favor of the Flyers on June 30th and with that, it was the Flyers who sent a King's Ransom to the Nordiques in the form of Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Steve Duchesne, Chris Simon, Kerry Huffman, two first-round draft choices (one of which was used to select Jocelyn Thibault while the other was traded away) plus $15 million!
The trade would send the franchise on the road to the Stanley Cup, which they would win in 1996 as the Colorado Avalanche, their first season after their relocation to Denver, Colorado.
Today's featured jersey is a CCM 1990-91 Oshawa Generals Eric Lindros jersey as worn the season in which Lindros scored 149 points in 57 games just prior to his being drafted first overall by the Quebec Nordiques.
Bonus Jerseys: Today's first bonus jersey is a Tackla 1991-92 Canada National Team Eric Lindros jersey as used in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France while Lindros was refusing to play for the Nordiques in Quebec.
This jersey has all the graphics dye-sublimated onto the jersey and features the unusual white nameplate with red letters on a red jersey.
Today's second bonus jersey is a CCM 1991-92 Quebec Nordiques team issued Eric Lindros jersey made for Lindros to wear in his planned rookie season of 1991-92 with the Nordiques, which went unworn as Lindros made good on his threats to not play for the Nordiques and instead embark on a schedule of games with primarily the Canadian National Team until the Nordiques traded him to the Philadelphia Flyers in time for the 1992-93 season.
Today's first video is the Nordiques following through on their promise to take Lindros first overall in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft.
Here is a report on Lindros refusing to play for the Nordiques prior to the draft.