Toronto paper's Lindros fantasy is a hit


If you think Eric Lindros has created a stir in Quebec, you should see what he's done to hockey-crazed Toronto.

The Toronto Sun, known almost as much for its Page 3 SUNshine pinup girl as for its hockey coverage, featured a picture on the front of Wednesday's paper that had Lindros' head superimposed on Wendel Clark's body. The photo showed what Lindros would look like in a Maple Leafs uniform, and it wasn't bad.

Wednesday's SUNshine girl also got into the spirit. She wore a Lindros T-shirt and called herself his "No. 1 fan."

"We want Lindros," the Sun cried out in a big red headline on the top of Thursday's front page, and the paper offered readers a chance to vote on how far the Maple Leafs should go in trading for the junior superstar.

Unlike his fans, Lindros is handling very well all the hoopla surrounding his refusal to sign with Quebec. He shrugged off the scattered boos he received when Team Canada played in Quebec on Monday, and he's calling on the rest of the NHL to step in and make the Nordiques an offer they can't refuse.

It seems unlikely that this will happen.

The Nordiques seem determined to persuade Lindros to play for them. He says he never will, though, and he's already made plans to return to Oshawa of the Ontario Hockey League if a trade to Montreal, Toronto or a team in the United States doesn't happen.

With all the talk of Lindros these days, it's easy to overlook the possibility that the Nordiques will have a substantially improved team this season, with or without Mr. Wunderkind.

Take Mats Sundin, for example. Sundin played well in his first NHL season last year, scoring 23 goals and adding 36 assists. But Nordiques fans have yet to see all that Sundin can do.

It was Sundin who scored the winning goal in Sweden's 2-1 victory over the Soviet Union at the World Championships last spring. And it was Sundin who had the winner for Team Sweden in Monday's 5-2 triumph over Czechoslovakia in the Canada Cup tournament.

That victory sent the Swedes into the semifinals, where they lost to Lindros and Team Canada, 4-0, on Thursday.

It wasn't Sundin's fault, though. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound right winger played an exceptional game and was stopped from scoring several times only by the equally stellar play of Canada's goaltender, Bill Ranford. Sundin was the Swedes' top scorer in the tournament, with two goals and four assists in six games.

While Sundin was the offensive threat for the Swedes, goalie Tommy Soderstrom was the defensive savior.

Soderstrom, the Philadelphia Flyers' 14th pick in last June's entry draft, was 2-1 with a goals-against average of 2.67 going

into Thursday's contest against the Canadians.

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