May 26, 2010, 9:45 AM EDT
The playoffs rarely ended pretty for the Flyers the past decade, but no finish was much uglier than Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 26th, 2000. Playing the much-hated Devils, the Flyers would get up to a 3-1 lead in the series, but lose the next two to set up a deciding Game Seven in Philly. Rushed back for the game before had been star center Eric Lindros, who had been out for weeks after experiencing a series of concussions, but played well in the Game Six loss, scoring the team's only goal in the game.
Devils defenseman Scott Stevens would quickly make him wish he had stayed home for Game Seven, though. As Lindros intercepted a pass from Scott Niedermayer, and brought the puck past the blue line into the offensive zone, he was positively leveled with a hit from Stevens, who led his shoulder into Eric's head and jaw. Lindros dropped to the ice like a bag of cement, and was eventually brought to a nearby hospital where he was kept overnight. The Flyers went on to lose the game 2-1 on a late third-period goal by Patrick Elias, and as the Devils went on to win the Stanley Cup, the Flyers had to face a long off-season with their franchise player's future very much in doubt.
"Once that [hit] happened," said Courier Post writer Chuck Gormley, "Everyone knew his career was over." Not quite, but it was definitely through for #88 wearing the Orange and Black–Lindros wanted out of Philadelphia after suffering his fourth concussion in four months, and sat out the entire '00-'01 season to try to force a trade. Eventually, the Flyers wore down and shipped him to the Rangers for not much in particular (defenseman Kim Johnsson was the only player received to see significant ice time in Philly), an appropriately messy end to one of Philly sports' most contentious careers.
As for the hit itself…well, you can judge yourself whether it was a clean or dirty one. For the record, though, Flyers blue-liner and Lindros teammate Dan McGillis gave Stevens a pass. "Stevens is a big hitter [...] It was right at the
whistle, but I think it was pretty clean," said McGillis. "You
have to have your head up when he's on the ice."
Just like 2Pac always said.
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