You know that feeling when something happens and you’re hit with that I’ll always remember exactly where I was feeling? That happened Thursday night. The Flyers and Islanders were about to meet in Game 6 of their second round series when the news broke that Oskar Lindblom would not only suit up for warmups, but he’d actually play in the Game. Lindblom’s road to recovery following a devastating diagnosis of Ewing Sarcoma back in December 2019 has been nothing short of remarkable.
Seriously, just let it sink in a moment. Nine months after learning he’d been diagnosed with a cancer that has a 15-30% survival rate in children, whose bodies are capable of handling more aggressive dosages of chemotherapy drugs than their adult counterparts. Simply put: this shouldn’t have happened to Oskar Lindblom, yet he took the news in stride and approached the fight of his life with the resolve, determination, and positivity needed to come out healthy on the other side. He said after the game, “I was just trying to think positive thoughts during the whole chemo. I knew I would play one day, but I didn’t know when. Today’s the day. I’m just lucky to be out there and be with these guys.”
The news of Lindblom making it into the lineup showed just how meaningful it was for many around the hockey world, including people who have either fought this horrible illness themselves, or alongside a friend or loved one.
Lost my father, the man that is the reason I’m a flyer fan to begin with, to cancer in July. Couldn’t be rooting for lindblom any harder
— Fire Matt Klentak into the sun (@BriMcL17) September 3, 2020
I can't cheer hard enough for him. My mom diagnosed with same cancer two weeks before Oskar. She doesn't like hockey but she's watching tonight to cheer on Oskar. #HeartOfAChampion
— Thomas (@Thomas_Duncan) September 3, 2020
I love this with every ounce of my being and I'm not a flyers fan. Go get em kid!!
— B00K3R (@booker_laddy) September 3, 2020
No matter what the result of this game is tonight, the fact that Oskar Lindblom is playing Hockey tonight makes this an ABSOLUTE WIN!!! Sports are great, but real life trumps all. UNREAL to see a great person in Oskar playing in this game. #AnytimeAnywhere
— jasonmyrt (@jasonmyrt) September 3, 2020
The moment wasn’t lost on either side of the ice as both teams took a moment midway through the first period before a face-off to acknowledge Lindblom’s presence on the ice:
Oskar Lindblom is diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer.
Oskar completes his last round of treatment.
Oskar returns to the lineup, playing nearly 18 minutes. pic.twitter.com/JobixnwJSW
— Peter Andrianopoulos (@peterandri) September 4, 2020
So how did he do? I’d argue that if you go back and watch the film, it was pretty clear while he wasn’t processing the game at playoff speed at all times -to be expected from a guy who hadn’t played since December 7- he played well all things considered. Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault talked about Lindblom’s determination to get back and what went into the decision to play the young forward:
Considering obviously what he’s been through, but for me, doesn’t it say so much about the young man that he gets cleared from cancer on July the 2nd. We start our camp on July 13th. He goes back home for a couple of days. It just shows you about the young man and he’s will to help. He comes back, spends a couple days in quarantine and starts working out. A month later, he’s helping his teammates win a Game 6 that’s giving us a chance at Game 7. Considering our situation tonight that Coots and Joel weren’t available, for him wanting to play, just say so much about the young man.
As for when the decision was made to have him suit up for Game 6:
We’ve been obviously talking. I haven’t. Our medical staff and some of our coaches have been talking lately, obviously finding out how he feels. I talked to him this morning. Considering our situation this morning, I knew that Coots wasn’t going to be in and Joel wasn’t going to be in. Just asked him how he felt and told him how I would use him. Obviously going into five periods, I used him a little more than I anticipated. Great young man that wanted to help his team and he did.
For those wondering if it inspired his teammates, Carter Hart’s answer spoke volumes:
I don’t think there’s anything that can describe how proud we all are of him and how much he means to this organization and to our team. A really special moment for him to come out for his first shift there and to see the support from not only our team, but the Isles all standing up and cheering him on, especially after our goal against. A lot of respect to them for that. You can ask him how he feels. I’m sure he’s pretty excited.
I think all season he’s been [an inspiration], not just tonight. Obviously him coming into the lineup and playing, obviously gives our team a huge boost of energy. One of the guys said it was like he never left. It was pretty special to see him out there with us. It’s hard to describe, but it’s pretty amazing what he’s gone through and how much he’s overcome, persevered. For him to be here with us, we’re so thankful and so happy.
We said it before the game on The Press Row Show, but once the news of Lindblom’s return came out, the result of the game became secondary. Few things in sports can transcend a playoff game. This was one. After a massive win in Game 6, Lindblom and the Flyers will look to finish the comeback from 3-1 down as they meet the Isles on Saturday night at 7:30PM in Game 7.
For more Flyers coverage, follow Snow The Goalie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also be sure to tune into The Press Row Show as Anthony SanFilippo and Russ Joy provide pregame and intermission coverage of every Flyers home game from press row of the Wells Fargo Center via the Crossing Broad Facebook page, YouTube Live, and Twitter, and their Twitter accounts Follow @SnowTheGoalie Follow @AntSanPhilly Follow @JoyOnBroad