Tales from the press box: Oskar Lindblom’s character shines through


It’s been a while since we visited our ‘Tales from the press box series’ and when thinking of what to write about on a cold Monday afternoon, I oddly only had one image in my head.

Maybe it’s because self-isolation is driving me insane, or perhaps it’s just making me reminisce about that season-opening win in Prague that I was so humbled to cover. But for some reason, one moment stood out.

After clinging onto a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, reporters clambered to grab words from the stars of the night. But when the dust settled and the media hurried to their desks to write up some post-game content, I turned around and noticed Lindblom walking out of the training room.

The locker room was empty at this point with the exception of a few. Lindblom stepped into it wearing a silky maroon-colored suit, walking candidly through the door after one of the biggest moments of his life. You wouldn’t think he’d just scored a goal to extend his team’s lead in the second period amidst an offensive breakout where he led the team in shots.

His hair slicked back, suit glistening, Lindblom looked as though he was ready for a night of fancy drinks and poker.

“Does the Suit reflect your mood right now?” I asked. 
Oskar laughed and with the most humble look of gratitude and playfully said “a little bit’”. But then the smile vanished. 

“It’s just the first game. But still, it feels better to win this one and go home to Philly, but we still have to work on small details in our games.” 

I was in awe. This was the game where the now infamous ‘victory song’ was founded and Vigneault’s rein kicked off with a monumental win in front of Jakub Voracek’s die-hard fanbase. The mood was euphoric, yet Lindblom’s mind immediately looked forward, not spending too much time to soak up the atmosphere and get lost in it.

“I’ll enjoy tonight a little bit. But then tomorrow it’s back to real life again and a focus on the next game. You can’t stay in this mode for too long.”

That maturity spoke volumes about his character. In the season before, Lindblom spent most of his time fighting for air on the fourth line before a midseason surge. He went through a stretch of 23 games where he scored 19 goals, firing on all cylinders as his ice-time shot through the roof.

That statement itself is ironic, because being shot through the roof is what happened to the excitement of 17,000 fans when Konecny delivered a cheeky pass across goal to find the 23-year-old.

“I got a great pass from TK and I  was trying to get it off quick. At first I thought it went in, but it came out and hit their d-man and then went back in. I saw it all the way. It’s a great way to start the season.”

For someone so young to be so level-headed genuinely stunned me. That laser focus is echoed on the Ice. Lindblom was en-route to a career year in 2019, scoring 18 points in 30 games. His attention shifted from what he and the team had accomplished, to what he needs to do better within the space of a minute, which tells you all you need to know.

“It’s hard. Sometimes when you get in the offensive zone you get so much pressure from d-men these days. They pinch down, hard. I have to be stronger on the puck, but everyone has things to work on.”

Since December 2019, Oskar Lindblom has been sidelined with Ewing’s Sarcoma. It was heartbreaking for everyone to hear and it shook the sporting world to its core.

Just recently, we received some truly warming news. Lindblom is finishing his final treatments.

My immediate thoughts were obviously those of elation but quickly followed by feelings of pure amazement. There was something about Lindblom’s character that really captivated me in the moments after their season-opening win. That same strength and resilience have shined through time after time on the ice, but to go through something as terrifying as what that young man has endured, and to come out swinging with such positive feedback from those close to him, it’s mesmerizing.

Lindblom’s presence off the ice has been crucial to the Flyers this season, who played for Oskar and wanted to push that extra mile to fight for him. Oskar’s been fighting too, in a battle that I and everyone else would wish nobody ever have to go through. But he has…and he’s winning. Step by step, day by day, eyes looking forward. Just as he always has.

The reception when he hits the ice again one day will be enough to reduce an entire stadium to tears, and I for one, cannot wait for that day he receives such an overwhelming sense of love and support all at once, pouring out into an Ocean at the Wells Fargo Center.

Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre