Ontario is NHL's main supplier of talent
Updated: Wednesday November 29, 2000 11:21 PM
By Desmond M. Wallace, CNNSI.com
Let's face it. If you grew up a sports enthusiast in Canada, no doubt hockey was your passion. And if you grew up in Ontario, then the Maple Leafs were most likely your lifelong heroes on skates.
Now that Eric Lindros' neurologist has cleared the former Flyers' captain and current restricted free agent to resume his NHL career just six months after sustaining his sixth concussion in a little more than two years, Lindros announced his desire to play for Toronto.
A native of London, Ontario, Lindros grew up with a man-made ice pond in his backyard. And by his 16th birthday, Lindros was playing his junior hockey close to home, in a Toronto suburb, for the Oshawa Generals.
Lindros is just one of nearly 150 active-roster NHL players from the largest Canadian province. In fact, there are more Ontarians in the league than there are players on NHL rosters from any other country.
A year ago at his Hall of Fame Induction ceremony when asked about any regrets he may have had in his record-setting NHL life, Brantford, Ontario native Wayne Gretzky said, "I wish somehow, some way, it could have worked out that I could have been a Maple Leaf at some point ... It would have been nice if I'd had the chance."
It should be no great revelation, then, that a fellow son of the soil and local legend like Lindros would want to play for the hometown hockey club now.
The Maple Leafs might be wise to try to obtain the 27-year-old center and 1995 Hart Trophy recipient. After all, the six-time All-Star center has done nothing but torch Toronto throughout his career, including a four-goal, one assist performance in a Flyers-Leafs home-and-home series last December. In 16 regular-season games against Toronto, Lindros has scored 18 goals and averaged two points per game -- more point production than against any other team in the league.