Eric Lindros (True) Rookie Cards

With their 1st Pick in the 1st Round of the 1991 NHL Entry, the Quebec Nordiques selected Eric Lindros from the Oshawa Generals. Eric Lindros has two true rookie cards and four controversial rookie-year cards.

Eric Lindros Draft Controversy

Legend has it that as a young teenager Eric Lindros played power forward and had a way of physically dominating players much older than he was.

He was able to score quite frequently as well and these two attributes were at the core of his success.

He had a big man physical presence with the agility and finesse of a smaller hockey player.

Prior to being drafted into the NHL Draft in 1991-92, Lindros was an All-Star for the Oshawa Generals in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).

He won the Red Tilson Trophy for Most Outstanding Player and led the Generals to a Memorial Cup victory in 1990.

There was quite a bit of controversy with him being drafted #1 by the Quebec Nordiques because after he was picked Lindros refused to play for Quebec. Many hockey fans and Canadians took exception to that.

Lindros took a lot of heat for making that decision but later sets the record straight on his decision.

“I guess I didn’t explain properly enough that I didn’t want to play for that particular owner as clear as I should’ve.” He states further, “it has nothing to do with culture, it has nothing to do with French people, Quebec is beautiful but I was just not going to play for that person.”

Starting his NHL career for the Philadelphia Flyers in 1992-93 he quickly established himself as the top player of the team.

As a rookie he scored 41 goals and collected 75 points, to go along with 147 minutes in penalties.

The 1994-95 Season, Lindros Best

Joining Lindros and teammate Mikael Renberg was John LeClair in a key trade made with Montreal. That season the trio dominated the league and were affectionately known as “Legion of Doom.”

Eric led the charge as the team Captain and had the most dominating season of his career. However, the Flyers lost the NHL Conference Finals.

Lindros won the Hart & Pearson Award in 1994-95 and led the league with 70 points (29 goals / 41 assists).

Unfortunately, the Flyers made it to the playoffs for the next 10 years but never won the Stanley Cup.

Career Stats & Accomplishments

Eric Lindros played in the NHL for 13 seasons: 8 years with the Philidelphia Flyers, 3 years with the New York Rangers, 1 year with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and a 1-year stint with the Dallas Stars before retiring after the 2006-07 season.

According to Hockey-Reference.com career stats are: Games 760 | Goals 372 | Assist 493 | Points 865 | Penalties in Minutes 1,398.

Accomplishments:

  • 1992-93 NHL All-Rookie Team
  • 1994-95 Hart Memorial Trophy
  • 1994-95 Ted Lindsay Award
  • 2x All-Star
  • 2016 Hall of Fame Induction

In 1998, Canadian Magazine, The Hockey News declared Lindros #54 in their list of 100 Greatest Hockey Players of All-Time

An Intriguing Question

I was asked by one of my subscribers on my YouTube channel, “What are your thoughts on the Eric Lindros RC? Beckett acknowledges that his 1990 Score card as his true rookie but what about his first Upper Deck card issued in 1991? His first NHL cards weren’t issued until 92-93.”

That was a fantastic question and I’m really glad he asked it. I recall some confusion in the early ’90s about the Lindros rookie cards. We’ll take a closer look below. Or you can check out the video to it on the YouTube link here.

Eric Lindros True Rookie Cards:

Before We Begin

This post contains affiliate links through eBay Partner Networks, links are attached to (shop ebay) buttons. If you purchase anything, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support! For more info please see my Disclaimer here.


True Rookie Card

Identifier (RC) Defined

A rookie card is a trading card that is the first to feature an athlete AFTER that athlete has participated in the highest level of competition within his or her respected sport. It must be licensed by both the League and the Players Association. An RC identifier is only given to cards that fit this criteria. Below is an exhaustive list of the featured players true rookie cards.

1990 Score, #440 (RC)

shop ebay

This is a 440 card set and card number 440 of the set happens to be the official and only, American rookie card.

The league had high expectations for Lindros right out of the gate. So much so Lindros landed an exclusive deal with Score in his rookie year.

This “exclusive deal” caused lots of heartburn among the card manufacturers but more on that later.

I also wanted to mention, there is a factory set that was available through hobby dealers and included five Eric Lindros bonus cards (B1-B5).

This one falls under the “Mass-Produced Era” so copies are plentiful.


1990 Score Canadian, #440 (RC)

shop ebay

There was an exact Canadian version of the 440 card set produced, and it too is considered an Eric Lindros rookie card despite him being featured in Oshawa Generals uniform.

The American version used a blue Score logo on the card front. The logo on the front of the Canadian version is in red and the text on the back of the card shows both English and French text.


Rookie-Year Card

Identifier (RYC) Defined

An RYC identifier is given to the cards of a rookie player that: are not the first card featured in the base set, subset cards, insert cards, print on-demand cards, food and beverage issues, or cards that are not properly licensed by the League and the Players Association.

The Controversial “Rookie-Year Cards”

1990 UD Canada’s Captains, #473 (RYC)

shop ebay

The 80s brought about hobby competition among card manufacturers, every season one of their main goals was to get the newest rookies to sign with them.

That is the case here, Lindros didn’t enter the NHL Entry until the 1991-92 season. His NHL debut wasn’t until the 1992-93 season yet, here he is featured in a 1990 product.

Eric Lindros signed an exclusive 2-year contract with Score which didn’t allow other manufacturers to feature him in their cards.

However, it seemed like Upper Deck took exception to this exclusive contract. In situations like these card manufacturers of the day turned to what I call,  competitive shenanigans.

What did 1990-91 Upper Deck do. They featured Lindros in this card, but not with a Quebec or Philidelphia jersey because that would be an issue.

Instead, they included him in this Team Canada, ’91 World Junior Championships jersey along with Kris Draper and Steven Rice, and the caption on the card back is Canada’s Captains.

So you know. This isn’t technically a card of Lindros (wink, wink).


1990 Score Rookie Traded Baseball, #100T (RYC)

shop ebay

Score making the most of their investment started to add Lindros cards in everything. Even this baseball card from Scores baseball card set featured Eric Lindros.

Interesting to know Eric was a legitimate two-sport athlete who batted over .400 in high school and was given a tryout by the Toronto Blue Jays.

In its day, this was a very popular card in the hobby, it still holds decent value and the nostalgia factor for many collectors.

Although this card is licensed by both leagues it should not be considered a true rookie card. Why? Because of its limited distribution method, which was 132 card boxed set sold in hobby shops only.

Also, Eric Lindros never officially made it to a pro-level roster, this tryout/photo op was more of a marketing gimmick to bring attention to the Score Rookie Traded set. It worked too! Collectors were really chasing these.


Post-Rookie Theme

Identifier (PRT) Defined

The PRT identifier has a dual function. It’s used to identify cards that feature a player after their rookie season but in some way the card design has elements that feature a rookie theme. Also, for vintage, this identifier can be used for second year cards which are highly collectable, and often times preferred, but they are NOT true rookie cards.

1991 Upper Deck, #9 (PRT)

shop ebay

Testing the waters a bit further Upper Deck pulled the same shenanigans the following year with this “Team Canada” card of Eric Lindros. If it worked once, why not twice? Manufacturers were known for finding loopholes and shenanigans in this era.

This time they featured him by himself on the card front and with The Great One on the card back.


1992-93 Upper Deck, #88 (PRT)

shop ebay

Scores exclusive contract with Lindros was only valid until he entered into the NHL, after that Lindros is fair game for all licensed card manufacturers.

Upper Deck desperate to feature Lindros in a Flyers uniform as quickly as possible released this card but did a PhotoShop hack and featured only Lindros head on the card front.

Yes, my collecting friends they cut his head and applied it to the body of another Flyers player. That’s just creepy. Today, that type of activity is not acceptable with the Players Association.

It just goes to show how far card manufacturers would go to be the first to feature the cards of potential star rookies.

To Answer A Subscribers Question

So I want to take a moment here to respond to my YouTube subscriber’s question.

If we look at these cards through the standards of a rookie card today that would make the 1992-93 the true rookie card and all the others would be pre-rookie cards.

The Players Association expectations for the use of a rookie card released in 2005 states, “a rookie card can only be released after a player has made a pro-level roster.”

However, we would error to try to implement today’s rookie card rules onto yesteryears cards. Prior to 2005, the hobby decided what a rookie card was.

The hobby said the 1990 Score were the true rookie cards.

For more detailed information on what is and is not a rookie card check out The 10 Commandments of the Rookie Card here.

Happy Collecting Collectors,

Learn. Collect. Enjoy.

Address
304 North Cardinal
St. Dorchester Center, MA 02124

Work Hours
Monday to Friday: 7AM - 7PM
Weekend: 10AM - 5PM