Trick or Treat?


About five months ago, I created a series of one-on-one (fictitious) interviews with leading Philadelphia sports personalities for my friends at philly2philly.com.



The series had run weekly, and now runs on a more ad-hoc basis. I love conducting the interviews as they combine at least four of my passions:


• Sports in general, and Philly sports in particular

• Humor writing

• Vicarious conversations that I’m kind of in control of

• Producing high quality for little or no recognition and pay



My latest piece was a reaction to the news that former Philaelphia Flyers centerpiece Eric Lindros—the most talented and controversial player in the Flyers’ history—confirmed that he’ll be returning to Philly at the end of the year for the Winter Classic festivities.


The Flyer fan in me (and Eric Lindros fan, in particular) celebrated this news. The irreverent humorist in me marked the anticipation with the below interview.


The process of my interviews is to just put characters (including myself, at times) into motion and let it evolve or devolve in real time. I never try to shock for shock’s sake; no true humorist should. Sometimes my more cautious angels bar me from certain avenues and sometimes—to use the hockey vernacular—the goalie is pulled.


This piece ended up being a little too edgy for philly2philly’s purposes, but I hate to let it go totally unread. So, enjoy:


The Big E is back. Number 88, the E-Train, will be back wearing the orange-and-black this year.


Yesterday, Eric Lindros—the most talented and controversial player in the history of the Philadelphia Flyers—confirmed that he’ll be returning to Philly at the end of the year for the Winter Classic festivities. Lindros will represent the organization for the first time since leaving in a cloud of acrimony after the 1999-2000 season.


He will suit up in a Flyers-versus-Rangers alumni game on December 31 The main event between the two teams will be January 2; both games will be played at Citizens Bank Park.


Ironically, or fittingly, the game will also reunite Lindros with Bob Clarke, legendary former Flyer and general manager of the team during the Lindros era. The two had not spoken together since their notorious feud. I was able to get a little time with both men earlier today.



Matt: This is very exciting news. Bobby Clarke and The Big E back together again in Philly. Never thought I’d see the day.


Clarkie: You can call me Bob.


Lindros: Nice to be back before the greatest fans in the NHL.


Matt: Let’s cut to the chase. Have you guys patched things up? (After a long silence) Well, have you?


Clarkie: I’ve always said that Eric deserves a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame. When he wanted to play, he was a force out there.


Eric: Thank you, Clarkie. I appreciate the compliment.


Clarkie: I said that when you wanted to play, you were. The problem was that you almost never wanted to play.


Lindros: That’s a bunch of crap. You just wanted me to play whether or not I had a concussion. If I listened to you and the trainers, I would have bled to death with a punctured lung flying from Nashville to Philly.


Clarkie: Ah geez. What a wuss. Freaking crybaby. Just strap it on and play. My God, an ounce or two of blood and he starts crying to Mommy and Daddy.


Lindros: Yeah, like you were so tough. Who did you ever fight, tough guy?


Clarkie: I played 15 years in the league after shooting myself up with needles (for diabetes) every day. I was plenty tough, mama’s boy.


Lindros: I’ve seen the tapes from your era. You jabbed guys with your stick and then had Schultz and the Hound fight your battles. I fought my own battles—after jabbing guys with my stick.


Matt: Wow, this is going well. Tell me, Eric, do you still harbor any bitterness toward the Flyers organization?


Lindros: It’s been a tough 11 years, you know. I think I’m ready to let bygones be bygones. I had some great years there.


Matt: Clarkie? Sorry…er, Bob?


Clarkie: Well, you know, if Mr. Snider wants him out there, he’ll be out there with his line and I’ll be out there with mine. Ahem—mama’s boy.


Matt: I didn’t catch that last part, Bob.


Clarkie: Oh, nothing. I just had to cough. I’ll be out there with Billy Barber and Reggie Leach. And Eric will skate with his guys. Ahem—big wuss.


Matt: I’m stoked. The old legendary L-C-B, Leach, Clarke and Barber. An amazing line. How would you compare yourself to Eric’s Legion of Doom?


Clarkie: Quite favorably.


Matt: Care to elaborate?


Clarkie: We won two Stanley Cups. How many did you guys win again? Ahem— overrated.


Lindros: Maybe, if you got me more players, I would have hoisted the Cup once or twice myself. How many Cups did you win as the GM, old man?


Matt: Eric, tell me about the plans to reunite the Legion of Doom.


Lindros: I’ve talked a little about it with Holmer (current Flyers’ GM Paul Holmgren), and it looks like I’ll be centering between old linemates John LeClair and Mikael Renberg. Haven’t seen Johnny in a couple years, and nobody knows where Rennie is. Looking forward to it.


Matt: Where is Renberg now? It’s hard to hide in this day-and-age.


Clarkie: Who cares? I never liked those wussy European players, anyway. I think he’s in a cheapo, Ikea-built hut over in Russia.


Lindros; Sweden.


Clarkie: Yeah, go ask the kid with all the concussions about world geography. Rennie was a damn Russian. Good riddance.


Matt: Bob, I can’t help but observe that you seem a little edgy today. Did it get that ugly between you and Eric? I still remember the good times, and being there at the old Spectrum when you and E took that last ceremonial skate around the ice together. It was magical.


Clarkie: It was okay, I guess. But things just deteriorated. It was mostly his parents, Bonnie and Clyde. Still can’t stand them.


Lindros: That’s Bonnie and Carl, for the record.


Clarkie: You see. The big dummy has no respect for his parents. He calls them by their first names. Ahem—mama’s boy.

Matt: Eric, were your parents too involved?


Lindros: No. Why would you say that?


Matt: I don’t know. They seemed to act as your agent and spokespeople for a lot of years. I don’t recall that being the case for other Flyers.


Lindros: It was only a problem because Clarkie and Mr. Snider leaked all kinds of crap to the press. Everything was okay till then.


Matt: Bob?


Clarkie: We covered your ass for years. I just tired of all the bullshit. There were plenty of things we concealed from the media.


Lindros: Yeah, like what?


Clarkie: How about “Shtup-gate?”


Matt and Lindros: Shtup-gate?


Clarkie; Eric moved in to No. 17’s house and was shtupping his wife.


Matt: I did hear something about that at the time.


Clarkie; Yeah, but the rumor didn’t come from the organization.


Matt: How about it Eric? Did you, um, shtup Rod Brind’amour’s wife?


Lindros: I didn’t return to answer questions from 12 years ago about a quick affair…two or three times…that we had. I won’t dignify that. That’s between me and her legs. Um, me and her.


Clarkie: See, just another way he destroyed the locker room.


Lindros; Oh, like you never shtupped a teammate’s wife.


Clarkie; No, you disrespectful brat, I would never shtup so low.


Lindros: You never had the chance. You gargoyle-faced, toothless bastard.


Clarkie: I had plenty of opportunities, you over-sexed, lazy piece of crap. I preferred to sleep with opponent’s wives.


Matt: This is mind-boggling, Bob. Wouldn’t that fire up the other team, and put you at risk on the ice.


Clarkie: I wasn’t scared of that crap. Besides, I had the Hound and the Hammer, and the Moose all around me. Eric’s teammates never had his back like that. Ahem—big wuss..


Lindros; I kind of agree with that, actually.


Matt: Well, at least there’s some agreement here. I’d hate to think that a long-awaited reunion of, arguably, the two greatest Flyers ever would end in more discord. Any other comments about the Winter Classic?


Clarkie: Come on out. I’m already working out with the guys. We’re gonna bury the Rangers.


Lindros; Yeah, it should be a blast to hear the roar of the Philly crowd again, and we’re also hoping to put together something for charity.


Matt: And, Clarkie, er, Bob, sorry.


Clarkie: I told you, “Don’t call me Clarkie.” I want you to write my name as Bob in the paper, okay?


Matt: Of course, done deal there. So, will the organization finally retire Eric’s 88 and put him in the team’s Hall of Fame? Would you welcome that?


Clarkie: I won’t stand in the way if that’s what Chairman Ed wants to do. Ahem— mama’s boy.


Matt: I’d love to see that. Thanks, guys, and Bobby: Please do something about that cough of yours.



(A Disclaimer: This conversation with Big E and Clarkie did not really take place—but is it really all that far-fetched?)


Along with being a lifelong Philly sports fan, Matt Goldberg is a unique, award-winning writer, speaker and all-around humorist who resides with his wife and son in South Jersey. He is a featured columnist for the Phillies for Bleacher Report, and is also the author of two new humor books—Wordapodia, Volume One, and All That Twitters is Not Goldberg.


For information on ordering books, requesting customized writing, media requests and special events, please contact matt@tipofthegoldberg.com, or visit www.tipofthegoldberg.com.




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