Eric Lindros enters the Hockey Hall of Fame as a ‘one in a lifetime’ player

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TORONTO (AP) Eric Lindros carved an unprecedented path to hockey stardom, including where the incoming Hall of Famer lived when he entered the NHL.

It was about a month into Lindros’ rookie season with the Philadelphia Flyers that the prodigy asked to move in with veteran teammate Kevin Dineen and his newlywed wife, Annie.

“And I was like, `Ah, let me go home and talk to my wife about that,”‘ Dineen recalled almost 25 years later.

Lindros had already bought a townhouse with “everything you could ever want,” but he was also a teenager in an unforgiving American city. Dineen figures he was probably a little bit lonely.

So Lindros spent two years in the Dineens’ home, flush with dogs and a growing, makeshift family. The unlikely unit ate breakfast and dinner together, and sometimes Lindros and Dineen sneaked into classes at the University of Pennsylvania, where Annie was working toward her master’s degree.

“It was funny in a lot of ways,” Dineen said. “It was like having a little brother who was much bigger than you.”

Finally entering the Hockey Hall of Fame alongside Rogie Vachon, Sergei Makarov and the late Pat Quinn, Lindros had an incomparable career on and off the ice. He was a maverick in a sport of rigid rules and a talent on the ice not seen before or since.

“He was probably the most dominant player during his time in the NHL,” longtime teammate Rod Brind’Amour said.

At 6-foot-4 and more than 200 pounds, Lindros was like a freight train on skates, but with the agility and skills to move like a race car.

Brind’Amour still remembers hopelessly trying to defend Lindros at his first practice with the Flyers in 1992. Lindros had one hand on his stick as he rushed down the wing but still somehow whipped a wrist shot into the top corner.

“And I’m like, nobody can do that in the NHL,” Brind’Amour said. “And of course, if he wanted to run you over, he could run you through the boards. And then if you wanted to fight, he could fight. There was just nothing that he couldn’t really do. And that was impressive because there wasn’t really anyone in the NHL that could do everything.”

Dineen believes Lindros should be remembered as a progressive force. The hockey world could have its opinions, but Lindros stood by his best interests.

“He gets painted a little bit with the ugly brush because of the stands he took,” said Dineen, now a Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach.

Lindros twice refused to play for the team that drafted him No. 1 overall. He famously spurned the NHL’s Quebec Nordiques in 1991, later saying he didn’t want to play for owner Marcel Aubut, and that came two years after he declined to play for Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League – the club eventually to traded him to Oshawa.

Lindros sat out the 2000-01 season waiting for a trade out of Philadelphia following a bitter public spat with general manager Bobby Clarke regarding the treatment of Lindros’ injuries, including multiple concussions. Compare that to the handling of current stars like Sidney Crosby, whose concussions have been handled by the Penguins with caution.

“It’s not like you’re looking to go upstream,” Lindros said. “The choices that I made were choices that other people had done before me. It wasn’t like it was fresh territory.”

Perhaps not on a case-by-case basis, but the entirety of Lindros’ off-ice drama is unprecedented among NHL superstars.

And still, his career will be defined as much by what it wasn’t as what it was.

Injuries limited him to fewer than 800 regular season games and retirement at age 34. He has some of the finest seasons ever in the league on his resume, but no longevity to go with it. And of course, Lindros also lacks a precious Stanley Cup title.

What could his career have been with good health? Brind’Amour thinks Lindros’ brute, physical style likely would have degraded his productivity with time.

Regardless, the powerful Lindros made a dent on the sport. His dominance and distinctiveness can’t be denied.

“He’s one in a lifetime,” Brind’Amour said. “I don’t know if you’ll ever see a player like him because the game’s changed so much now. The physical part of the game is kind of out the door. No kids growing up are trying to be like that. It’s all skill and skating, so I don’t know that you’re going to see that kind of player again.”

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.