Oskar Lindblom and fans misguided anger

So let me preface this by saying one of two things. First, I wish nothing but the best for Oskar Lindblom and hope that his placement on the COVID protocol list is nothing but a precaution. Second, being placed on that list does not mean that the individual has contracted COVID. With that being said, it’s time to dive into this headfirst.

Everything surrounding Lindblom’s cancer diagnosis, treatments, and recovery has been incredibly well-documented. We all essentially traveled along in his road to recovery. It was the most incredible story in all of the NHL, no slight to Bobby Ryan’s recovery from alcohol abuse or Stephen Johns’ return from a 22-month absence due to post-traumatic headaches. The initial reaction was heartbreaking. The return to action was triumphant. It was simply amazing to see it all unfold before our very eyes.

We now know that Oskar is in COVID protocol. For someone who has recently gone through what he has, it’s alarming, to say the least. While it’s alright to be frustrated and upset that he’s on the protocol list, this isn’t a reason to go after the NHL.

Yes, everyone is well aware that the NHL is losing a lot of money due to no fans in the stands and advertising money not being what it typically is. Evidenced by the selling-off of naming rights for the divisions and logos on players’ helmets, the owners are doing what they can to recoup what they’re losing. A key component to making their money is having a product to sell. While it stands that there’s the possibility of some shady dealings in trying to keep players on the ice at all costs, we can only take this at face value and assume everyone involved is doing their part to stay safe and keep everyone else around them safe.

The fact of the matter is that partaking in the 2020-21 NHL season was a choice. Players on a non-playoff team had until December 24th of 2020 to opt out of the current season. Players on playoff teams from last year had until the 27th of the same month to opt out. That means Oskar Lindblom and every other Flyers player had roughly 112 days to decide whether or not they would partake in the 2020-21 NHL season. Almost four full months is more time than many think and gave the players ample time to make up their mind about playing or not.

We can only assume that Lindblom knew the risks when it came to playing this season. Considering what he’s been through this past year, it would be fitting to believe he did his due diligence in deciding on playing this season. According to the same article linked above, Lindblom could have opted out, and the missed year would not count against his contract term.

I get it. I understand the frustration behind seeing Lindblom’s name appear on the list of players being placed in COVID protocol. It’s the last place you want to see Lindblom’s name appear. However, we can’t deny that this was a possibility. A sport such as hockey is about as close-contact as they come. It was bound to happen eventually, and it just so happened that it impacted someone who is at a much higher risk than most.

While it’s worrisome, let’s not act like he was being held at gunpoint. Lindblom is a big boy. While some will claim him as their “large adult son,” or whatever you want to call him, he’s a grown man. He made this decision knowing full well that there was risk involved. Players make that decision every single night when they lace up their skates, knowing the risks that await them out on the ice.

Of course, the decision is a difficult one. According to Ian Oland of Russian Machine Never Breaks, players who opted out would not have been paid during the season.

Excerpt from Key dates for the NHL’s 2020-21 season including opt-out deadline and first day of free agency. (RMNB)

Nobody wants to voluntarily leave money on the table, that much is fact. However, the argument circles back to this being one of the risks to weigh when deciding to play or not. Every choice made has a consequence, and opting not to play meant not getting paid. Opting to play meant getting paid, and risking exposure. While not an easy decision, it likely wasn’t made without heavily weighing the consequences of both choices. The fact remains, Oskar Lindblom made the choice to opt-in and play the 2020/21 season.

Don’t misguide your anger here. There’s no need to be angry at the NHL over this. You can be angry about the fact that Oskar Lindblom is on the list. That’s totally acceptable and understandable. You could be frustrated that the NHLPA didn’t work in some language to the deal that players would be taken care of if they decided to opt out. Sure, that’s totally understandable as well. There’s just no point in being angry at one entity over this situation. To put this into every-day life speak, it’s useless to get mad at the bar you went to that followed proper procedures when you have to quarantine. You decided to go out, and the place you went did everything they needed to do (hopefully) to keep you safe.

Photo Credit – Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire)

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