Trans-Atlantic memories of Lars Lindgren
Friday, 21 September 2007
Lars Lindgren, whom the Vancouver Canucks hired as a European scout earlier this month, accomplished a lot of fine things during his playing career. The big Pitea native was a two-time Swedish League all-star defenseman and a mainstay on Vancouver’s blueline during the club’s 1982 march to the Stanley Cup finals. Unfortunately, as Steve Smith and Tommy Salo can tell you, the gaffes you make are often more memorable than the brilliant plays.
I was chatting with a longtime Swedish journalist last night and asked him about his memories of Lindgren. He said the one that came to mind first was a Lindgren miscue in a key 1977 game versus Czechoslovakia at the IIHF World Championship in Vienna. Lindgren bobbled the puck at his own blueline on a seemingly harmless-looking play (kind of like Bill Buckner in the ’86 World Series), enabling forward Bohuslav Ebermann to swoop in behind him and score the winning goal. The Swedes had been on track to capture gold at that tournament, especially considering they wound up beating the nearly invincible Soviets twice (once in the round-robin and once in the medal round), but settled for silver instead.
I had to admit I wasn’t familiar with this anecdote.
Turning things around, I asked the journalist if he knew the best-known Lindgren story on this side of the Atlantic. And he had never heard that in an early 1980’s Vancouver game versus Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers at the Northlands Coliseum, Lindgren once inadvertently put the puck in his own net in the final minute of play, handing the Oilers a heartbreaking 3-3 tie.
Clearly, in the late 70’s or early 80’s, neither of us spent a lot of time on the Internet. This sort of thing would have been all over the message boards.