As the Philadelphia Flyers aim to get back to winning ways in the 2020 NHL Playoffs, they got a major boost in confidence on Sunday morning.
Oskar Lindblom returned to full practice on Sunday in Toronto after returning from a trip home to his native Sweden. Lindblom is expected to resume practice with the Flyers, although he isn’t available to play in games until at least September. The Swedish forward admits he has a lot of hard work ahead of him to play a part in these playoffs.
“I just feel like I need to be strong enough that I can put myself in a situation where I’m good enough to play,” Lindblom said in a conference call Sunday with reporters. “I don’t want to be out there if I’m not going to help the team or put myself in a tough spot. As long as I feel right, and my body is strong enough, I think I’ll put myself out there. Otherwise, I’ll keep practicing and work myself back up.”
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) August 16, 2020
The 23-year-old was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer back in December, forcing him to immediately undergo chemotherapy. In July, Lindblom was given the green light to skate on the ice after University of Pennsylvania doctors did not find any trace of cancer cells in his body.
He also was nominated for the NHL Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy, given annually to the player who best embodies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the game of hockey. Lindblom also signed a multi-year contract extension with the Flyers, a major statement made by the franchise for the years ahead.
“I think he was real nervous, real excited to be back with the group,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “The group was obviously ecstatic to have him back even though it was just a morning skate. He’s a great young man, beautiful smile, happy to have him around.”
“The coaches were almost in tears. When you think about everything that Oskar’s been through, everything that our team has been through, showing the support and going through the different stages, to have him back — every team at the end has a team stretch where a lot of times comments are made about certain things, but today was all about Oskar and the excitement to have him back with our group.”
Lindblom registered 11 goals and 18 points in 30 games this season before being sidelined, but has showed great courage and fight to get back onto the ice with his teammates. Should the Flyers advance into the later stages of the playoffs, the winger could be eligible to return to competitive action and provide another spark like he did in the early parts of the regular season.
Despite being in the hospital for long periods of time, Lindblom’s teammates remained there for him throughout the craziness of the regular season. The Flyers rolled to the No. 1 seed in the round robin, but since then are tied 1-1 with the Montreal Canadiens heading into Sunday night’s Game No. 3. Lindblom may not have been able to be with the team for majority of the season, but he reflected on the impact of his teammates during his time in recovery.
“It’s been everything,” Lindblom said. “They talk to me as if I’m still on the team even if I’m not there. Those tough weeks when I felt so bad and trying to think about life, they call me or text me and help me get more energy. It helps me through the whole process. To be around the boys, it’s the best thing. I feel great.”
Lindblom’s return could give the Flyers a needed confidence boost after being blanked 5-0 in Friday’s Game No. 2.