Lindros showing leadership ability at world tourney

Kitchener - Waterloo Record. 30 1993 .

(CP) - Eric Lindros, head down and legs churning, was working himself out of a slump Thursday.

The star attraction of the world hockey championship had gone pointless in Canada's 5-1 quarter-final win against Finland on Wednesday afternoon and there was a certain bullish aggression in his stride during practice the following day.

"Some nights you don't have it as far as moves, but a guy like Mark Recchi picks it up," Lindros said, referring to Recchi's two- goal performance.

"But I think I did some things well."

Lindros squared his shoulders and defied a listener to contradict.

It's been his posture here for the past 13 days and has carried him to a tournament-leading 10 goals and six assists in six games. And those statistics don't reflect the physical impact of Lindros - among the leaders on a Canadian roster of heavy hitters.

Lindros, 20, has taken command of this championship and his performance has impressed more than a few former detractors.

"I watched him in 1992 with (Canada's) world junior team and, quite frankly, he messed them up," said J.C. Tremblay, who played 13 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens before moving to Switzerland as the team's European scout eight years ago.

"Now, he looks more like a hockey player. Before, his head . . . He's always had talent, now he's a hockey player."

Brian Lefley, coach of the Italian national team, watched Lindros and Team Canada win a silver medal at the Olympics in Albertville but, "he's a different player here," said Lefley.

"He seems to have matured as a leader and he's really taking charge out there."

Lindros will lead Canada into tonight's semifinal against Russia, while the Czechs play defending champion Sweden in the other semifinal.

It is hardly surprising that Lindros is improving.

Most Canadians probably remember the 18-year-old who stepped into the 1991 Canada Cup lineup and kept up with the NHL's best. Or they think of the upstart who snubbed the Quebec Nordiques, forcing the trade to the Philadelphia Flyers that made Quebec an instant powerhouse. Most will recall a certain beer-throwing incident in an Oshawa bar.

But few stop to consider that Lindros has only 61 NHL games to his credit. He spent the 1991-92 season in hockey limbo, a hired gun for the Oshawa Generals of the OHL, the national junior team, the senior team program and the Olympic team. He was never quite one of the boys.

Welcomed by all, none of them was really his team to lead.

That seems to have changed here.

Lindros trots out the business about wanting to be just one of 23 players on Canada's team, but with a bit of prodding he warms to the subject.

"I think my game is getting stronger and I'm getting more confident," he said.

Asked about Pittsburgh centre Mario Lemieux suddenly elevating his game and carrying the Penguins to their first Stanley Cup in 1991, Lindros quickly nodded agreement.

"He just picked it up and said, "Let's get it done.' It's a great feeling when you can pick it up."

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