PHILADELPHIA — Eric Lindros stepped out of the dugout to a roar he hadn’t heard in Philadelphia in almost 12 years.
Big E had his standing O.
Lindros pointed his stick toward nearly 49,000 fans and took his long-overdue walk toward the infield ice to join his Flyers teammates. One of the great players in a franchise loaded with them was back in the orange and black.
With a packed Philadelphia crowd standing and going wild in appreciation, Lindros made a triumphant return to the city in a Philadelphia Flyers jersey, a bitter parting more than a decade ago forgotten from the moment No. 88 hit the ice for warmups.
The red reserved for the Phillies at Citizens Bank park gave way to 40,000 fans in Flyers orange — so many who paid just to see Lindros play in the alumni showcase, a prelude to Monday’s Winter Classic between the Flyers and New York Rangers.
“It really felt special here,” Lindros said. “It’s nice to be back and heading out to restaurants and hearing the well wishes around town. I’m happy to be here and catch up with some people I haven’t seen in a while.”
He would be traded 15 months later to the Rangers because of a nasty falling out with former general manager Bobby Clarke.
All was forgiven Saturday.
Lindros and Clarke, who won two Stanley Cups with the Flyers in the 1970s, chatted and skated together during warmups. Clarke received a huge ovation from the 45,808 fans who filled a reconfigured ballpark. Lindros also took a seat on the bench during intermission with youth teams playing on an auxiliary rink.
The two Flyers greats — who led a triumphant final lap around the ice when the team left the Spectrum in 1996 — hadn’t talked since the trade until this weekend.
“It’s good. We talked this morning and everything’s great,” Lindros said.
“He’s 38. He can make a comeback,” Clarke said, laughing.