Last season, the hockey world was rocked with the news of Oskar Lindblom’s diagnosis with an ultra-rare cancer known as Ewing’s Sarcoma, a cancerous tumor that grows in the bones or in the tissue around bones. His season would end with the diagnosis, but the love and support from his teammates would not stop there. The National Hockey League community would quickly show support for the Philadelphia Flyers forward by creating a hashtag, #OskarStrong, as they fought together alongside Lindblom.
Lindblom’s Journey Battling Cancer
One month after his diagnosis, Lindblom returned to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time, where he was met with an emotional standing ovation from the Philadelphia faithful. This would be just the beginning of the emotional and inspiring journey for the 23-year-old forward. Just a few weeks later, the NHL season would be paused because of the start of a global pandemic, and no one knew what would happen. He would go on to fight the cancer for eight months before officially being declared cancer-free right before the season picked back up.
“They’ve talked to me as if I’m still on the team even if I’m not there,” Lindblom said back in August 2020. “Those tough weeks when I felt so bad and trying to think about life, they’ve called me and texted me, to help get me more energy and it helped me through the whole process.”
Lindblom would eventually return to the ice before rejoining the Flyers in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He would play an important part in uplifting the team and giving them a jolt of life.
The team would eventually fall to the New York Islanders in Game 7 of the series, but compared to gaining Lindblom back, nothing could have matched the emotion of the events.
Flyers Honor Lindblom in Big Way
Nearly 500 days after Lindblom’s diagnosis, the Flyers continue to show their support for the journey he has been on. Sunday evenings matchup with the Islanders marked the annual Hockey Fights Cancer night for the Flyers. Although this was not the first year the team has hosted the league-wide initiative, this year was different. In a year where an important part of their team battled cancer, the team wanted to do something more.
For the pregame skate, the Flyers wore a purple and black warmup jersey to bring awareness to all of those impacted by cancer, but each player would have No. 23 Lindblom on the back. He also took a solo lap around the rink before his team joined him on the ice for warmups. The crowd was given purple rally towels and were prompted to wave them in honor and remembrance of their loved ones.
“A lot of emotions,” Lindblom said after the game. “Just to be able to play this game again, play in the NHL, the best league in the world, and I can still manage to be out there and compete, it’s a great feeling. I’m just happy to be able to be here and play again. I didn’t know there was supposed to be anything about me during the game, so it was emotional and I was just trying to hold it together and focus on the game. Amazing moment and I will remember that for the rest of my life.”
Flyers Gain Spark from Emotional Night
On a night that soon won’t be forgotten by the Flyers players, a spark of inspiration and motivation came from the emotions of the night. The team felt like they had something more to play for and a reason to win the game. Although the team would go on to lose 1-0 in overtime, the meaning behind the night was of much greater importance.
“Obviously, a special night. I think that’s part of the reason we had so much jump tonight,” Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim said after the game. “What he’s gone through, I think it was nice for him. I think he did the solo lap before, so it made it even cooler with what he’s been through. It just goes to show the support that we have for him and I think that he took it away.”
The Flyers will look to build off the emotions of Hockey Fights Cancer night as the team heads into the final 11 games on the season. Currently sitting 10 points out of a playoff position, the remainder of the season will be an uphill battle, but making a push for the playoffs is not out of reach.
Bobby Bader Jr. is a freelance journalist born and raised in Philadelphia, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers since the start of the 2020-21 National Hockey League Season. He currently works with the Hershey Cubs Hockey Club (USPHL Premier) as the team’s media coordinator and serves as the Assistant Sports Information Director at Penn State Harrisburg. For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Bobby on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo in articles like this one.