Oskar Lindblom deserves to hear criticism. There I said it. The Flyers are 13 games into the 2021-22 season and have an 8-4-2 record to show for it. On the surface not too impressive. If you consider where this team was when it left the ice late last spring, and the massive re-shaping to the roster that Chuck Fletcher and company undertook this summer. Then the 8-4-2 starts to take on another look, doesn’t it? In Hockey, you build a team from the net out. With a young netminder in Carter Hart who to date has returned to his pre-COVID shutdown self, and a revamped D Corp that is learning and gelling together all arrows are pointing up for the Fly Guys in most areas.
One area of concern remains upfront with the forwards and with one forward in particular. On December 12, 2019, Flyers left winger Oskar Lindblom shocked all of Flyer’s nation when he announced that he was stepping away from Hockey. The was at the age of 23 due to being diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer Ewing’s sarcoma. At the time of his diagnosis, Lindblom was starting to realize the potential that then Flyers GM Ron Hextall thought he had when he selected him in the 5th round of the 2014 NHL Draft. Thru 30 games of that season, Lindblom had registered 11 goals, 8 assists, for 19 points, and a plus 4.
Collectively we held our breath and once again looked into the heavens and asked why the hockey gods continue to forsake us. This was like this was bigger than sports and a full and speedy recovery was on every Flyers fan’s mind. After the COVID stoppage when the season resumed in the bubble. A cancer-free Oskar Lindblom returned to his team to serve as an emotional inspiration to both his team, the NHL, and the rest of the world.
As the 2020-21 NHL season drew near and the new reality of the pandemic world became clear the one thing that wasn’t clear was what type of effect it would have. The lack of training, facilities, compressed game schedules, and a few in-season practice sessions would have on the players. Lindblom like many struggles to find his footing in 2020-21. He registered only 8 goals, 6 assists, for 14 points while recording a minus 9 thru 50 games.
Lindblom Deserves Criticism
As the Flyers left the ice last spring, they were a beaten, divided, and leaderless team that was expecting massive changes. Many players were targeted for trades or worse by the Flyer faithful. One player spared from such criticism was Lindblom as his battle against cancer was seen as a huge hurdle to return from. Through 13 games this season Lindblom has netted 0 goals, 1 assist, for 1 point, and a minus 2. He has been relegated to the 4th line. Oskar was given a “maintenance” day by the Flyers for their game against Calgary on November 16th. Since he stepped away from Hockey in December of 2019 Lindblom has totaled 8 goals, 7 assists, for 15 points, and a minus 11.
Yet I see and hear very little criticism of Lindblom the player. It is almost viewed as taboo to be critical of a man who has been through what Oskar has been through. The Flyers and the fan base are failing Lindblom for not being openly critical of his play. This man battled his way back from cancer maybe we can provide him some inspiration as he provided us. Being openly critical would show Oskar we got his back that we know he can beat this easily.
He is always on our minds isn’t that what we do in Philly we are critical of our athletes just ask the Wentz, and Simmons that question. We showered him with thoughts, signs, prayers, and t-shirts when he battled cancer where are the cries this time. Criticism is what we do here, he is not performing to the potential he once showed. He has played his way out of the lineup that is desperate for offense.
What Does the Future Hold?
The options for Lindblom are tricky due to his NHL service time. Any attempt to send him down to the minors would trigger Oskar to go through waivers. Based on the desirability of former Flyer NAK who was claimed by the Colorado Avalanche last week after he was placed on waivers. That option for Lindblom may not be the right one.
So, what is right? AV I’m talking to you because the way he is being used is not working. With players like Wade Allison when he returns from IR, and Tyson Forester who is slowly but steadily building his pro Hockey cache down in the Valley. The question of what to do with Lindblom will become less of what but when. Until that question is answered I guess I can offer Oscar this; your struggle has been an inspiration to me and thousands more stay OSKAR STRONG. Oscar Lindblom deserves to hear criticism but hopefully can right the ship.
Matt Bednarczyk is your host of Talking Philly Sports With Matty B. He is a proud retired US Army Sergeant First Class, he is also a combat veteran with over 80 months served in Afganistan, and Iraq . Huge Hockey Fan. Matt is a lifelong 4 for 4 Philly sports fan. Born and raised on the Mayfair and Tacony neighborhood lines of Northeast Philly. He brings over 40 years of Philadelphia Sports passion and provides a realistic look at our Major Sports Teams and the most passionate sports fans on the planet. Look for his show live on Edge of Philly Sports.