FINALLY. After more than five years of doing this, I finally get to experience the joy that is blogging about Eric Lindros drama.
Lindros is suing former referee Paul Stewart and The Huffington Post over a column Stewart wrote for the website in which he made Lindros look like a – quote – “dickhead.” From TSN in Canada:
[UPDATE: Tim Panaccio reports, on Twitter, that Lindros is suing Stewart and AOL for only $150k, not $3 million. I’d link to it, but Tim blocked me like a big baby and I can’t see his original Tweet. So you’ll just have to take my word for it.]
Eric Lindros has launched a $3 million defamation lawsuit against one-time NHL referee Paul Stewart and the Huffington Post, after Stewart wrote a column for the online news website that allegedly made the former Philadelphia Flyers star forward look like a “dickhead.”
In documents filed in an Ontario court, Lindros says his reputation has been sullied after Stewart wrote about his poor on-ice relationship with Lindros, which was capped by an incident when Lindros allegedly tore up posters he was asked by Stewart to autograph for a charity.
Lindros has asked a court to award him $2 million in general damages and another $1 million in aggravated damages. He has also asked the court for an injunction that would prevent Stewart, the Huffington Post, and its U.S. owner AOL, from continuing to publish Stewart’s allegedly defamatory statements.
Eric Lindros was a player I got off with on the wrong foot and we never developed a rapport because neither he nor I wanted one. It started out innocently enough.
I was working an afternoon Philadelphia-New Jersey game at the Spectrum; the back end of a home-and-home. The Devils won the previous game, 6-4, in a game refereed by Mark Faucette. The game got chippy late in the third period, with about 40 penalty minutes being handed out in the final five minutes, including roughing penalties to Lindros and Scott Stevens in the waning seconds of the game.
The start of the game at the Spectrum was delayed several minutes. I had to wait for the red light on the scorer’s table to indicate that the broadcast had returned from a commercial and it was OK to drop the opening faceoff.
During the delay, I made small talk with several of the Devils and Flyers on the ice. I said hello to Mark Recchi and talked to Bernie Nicholls. I then tried to greet the 19-year-old rookie Lindros.
“Hey, Eric. How are things going? How’s your dad?” I asked.
The response: “[Bleep] you. Just drop the [bleeping] puck already.”
Lindros was apparently in a bad mood because he’d recently missed 12 games with a knee injury, the team was in a losing skid, and he’d had a tough game in New Jersey. This game was also played about a week after Lindros had to go to court in Toronto after the Koo Koo Bananas incident. You know what? Those were his problems, not mine. But we were about to have a mutual problem.
Right off the opening faceoff, Lindros bulled forward and drilled Nicholls under the chin with his stick. I ditched Lindros on a high-sticking penalty.
Before the game, I had brought a tube filled with posters to Flyers’ equipment manager Jim “Turk” Evers. The posters, which depicted Recchi and Lindros, were to be autographed and then donated to a charity auction. I had done a similar thing in other cities, such as a Cam Neely and Ray Bourque poster in Boston, and a Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in Pittsburgh.
After the game, I want to Turk to collect the poster tube.
“Stewy, you’re not going to like this,” Evers said. “I don’t have them.”
“What do you mean you don’t have them?” I asked.
“Well, Rex signed the posters but when Eric found out they were for you, he tore every one of them up. I’m sorry about that.”
I never spoke to Eric Lindros again.
One year, much later in his career when he was with the Rangers, I ended up getting him on eight minor penalties that season. I caught some heat for it from John Davidson on the Rangers’ broadcasts, but the truth of the matter was this: I did NOT go out of my way to “invent” penalties on Lindros — or any player — but I wasn’t going to give that guy a break on anything borderline that I might have let slide with a player who had gained acceptability with me.
If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past few weeks, it’s that even respected (or at least noted) reporters, such as Brian Williams and, to a lesser degree, Bill O’Reilly, have a habit of embellishing not-so-minor details for the sake of a good story. We don’t know if Stewart is doing the same, but I’m inclined to believe Lindros here. This seems like an awful lot to go through – not the least of which is the story resurfacing – if Stewart’s story was true. Then again, to Stewart’s point, his alleged on-ice encounter with Lindros has now turned into a $3 million lawsuit… so, there’s that.
Somewhere, Craig Carton breathes a sigh of relief.