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In his native Sweden, Pelle Lindbergh, the Philadelphia Flyers' goaltender, was a hero of the highest order. He was goalie on Sweden's 1980 bronze-medal Olympic team, and last summer, after he won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goalie, thousands of his countrymen turned out to honor him in Stockholm. When Lindbergh, 26, died last week of injuries suffered in a Nov. 10 automobile accident in Somerdale, N.J., Sweden's largest newspaper, Expressen, devoted 14 pages to him. "Not even if the king died would we have more than 14 pages," said Expressen photographer Hasse Persson. "Bjorn [Borg] was admired for being a good and successful tennis player, but Bjorn could also be cold. People loved Pelle for his warmth, the fact that he was always happy. That's why it's a difficult situation. It was easy to become friends with him."
Lindbergh's colleagues in the NHL felt the same way. Flyers captain Dave Poulin said, "I had my own nickname for Pelle. I called him 'P.F.' When somebody asked what it meant, I'd tell them ' Philadelphia Flyers.' In reality, it meant 'personal friend.' " Edmonton's Wayne Gretzky told the Philadelphia Daily News, "Win or lose, he'd lift his mask at the end of the game and he'd have a smile on his face." Gretzky recalled that after he had scored four goals against Lindbergh in the 1983 All-Star Game and had won an automobile as the game's MVP, the goalie shook his hand, winked and said, "You owe me half the car."
Lindbergh's easy manner drew people close. "I've cried at deaths, but it was always because I felt bad for somebody else's loss," said teammate Mark Howe. "This is the first time I wept for me. I had never lost someone from my immediate family before."
In eulogizing Lindbergh at the Spectrum last Thursday, Bernie Parent, the great Flyer goalie who was something of a father figure to him, said, "Each goalie stands on a lonely island." For Lindbergh, that was true only on the ice.
The football players at Glenville ( Minn.) High with their 68-game losing streak (SI, Nov. 4) can take heart from the Eagles of Dobbs Ferry High in New York. Like Glenville, Dobbs Ferry suffered a horrible streak, losing a state-record 45 consecutive times. Then, in 1974, coach Frank Violante arrived. He added to the streak by losing his first three games, then started winning. The Eagles have now won their division title nine years in a row and are unbeaten in their last 37 games; but for a 7-3 loss in 1981, Dobbs Ferry would be only two wins short of the state record of 55 straight.
Coach Violante, any advice for Glenville? "Yeah," he says. "Keep trying."
AND IF THAT DOESN'T WORK
THE GOOD WITCH OF THE SOUTH