Twenty-nine years ago, one of the brightest young stars was gone from the NHL sky. Today marks the anniversary of the day we lost our Vezina Trophy-winning netminder, Pelle Lindbergh. As hard as he played on the ice was also as hard as he played off of it.
Lindbergh was drafted in the second round, 35th overall, of the 1979 NHL Entry Draft by the Flyers. He played a season and a half for the Maine Mariners of the AHL starting in 1980-1981. He moved up to the big club about halfway through the 1982 season and was here to stay.
In 1983, he was named the goalie for the all NHL rookie team. It was the 1984-85 season that was the most special of his all too short career. He would lead the league in wins with forty, was first team All-Star and became the first European goaltender to win the Vezina trophy.
He backstopped the Flyers to a birth in the Stanley Cup finals during the 84-85 season. Although the Flyers lost to Oilers in five games, Lindbergh's and the Flyers future looked very bright.
It all came to screeching end on the morning of November 10, 1985. Linbergh lost control of his Porsche 930 Turbo and hit a wall in front of Somerdale elemenatry school. He was pronounced brain dead a few hours later.
The rest of that season the team was never really able to recover from the loss of their brother. For a very young Flyers team, it was a difficult time. Former coach Mike Keenan did they best he could to rally the players. Most fans look at the 1985-86 season as the year we lost Pelle.
His number 31 is not officially retired by the organization however no one has worn it since nor will anyone for the foreseeable future. He was a special talent. He was energetic, passionate and genuinely loved life. He was not full of himself, not a prima donna and loved the fans. It truly was one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the organization.
Twenty-nine years later fans still often wonder what could have been. How good could this little Swedish goalie have been? Today we salute and remember a player who was taken from us way too soon but gave us a lot of excitement in the brief time he was a member of the Flyers family.
87-49-15, 3.30 GAA, .887 save % in the regular season
12-10, 3.11 GAA, .893 save % in the postseason
AHL First All Star team 1981
NHL All Rookie team 1983
NHL First All Star team in 1985
Vezina Trophy winner 1985
1983, 1985 All Star game participant
Posthumously selected to the 1986 All Star team
Team award for most improved player is named after him.
Flyerdelphia would love to know your memories, stories, anything you can think of about Pelle Lindbergh. Let us know on Twitter and Facebook @Flyerdelphia or here on Flyerdelphia.com.
Bill Minchin is a contributing writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow Bill on Twitter @wtfd103074.