A little more than six months after he was diagnosed with a rare type of bone cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma, Flyers left winger Oskar Lindblom was back on the ice Tuesday at their Voorhees practice facility, skating with a handful of teammates for the first time since he underwent treatments.
Ewing’s sarcoma is diagnosed in about 250 children and young adults in the United States each year, according to medical experts. The cure rate is about 80 percent.
“It was fun to be out there with the boys again,” Lindblom said, adding he had skated “off and on” a few times a while ago. He later said it was “tough not being as good as you used to be when you were like normal.”
He said he was still undergoing chemotherapy treatments — “they’re going great,” he said — and doesn’t have many left.
“That’s the only thing I’m waiting for now — to get done with my chemo and get back with the team and play some hockey. That would be unreal to get back to real life again and have fun,” he said.
Added Lindblom: “I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. I can’t complain. People have had it worse. I’m happy to be where I am right now.”
General manager Chuck Fletcher said it was “great to see” Lindblom skating after such a long ordeal.
“He looked really good on the ice,” Fletcher said. “His hands are still there. It is remarkable to think that with all the treatments he has had, he was able to go out there today and still show the skill and still have the stamina to skate for 35-40 minutes.”
The GM called it a “great sign for him and very exciting to think that with all going well in the future, he’s going to return to play for us.”
Fletcher said every player and staff member in the NHL’s Phase 2 of its return — the current small-group workouts at the Skate Zone — must follow strict health guidelines and rules, and that the facility was a “very safe environment, safer than most places.”
Lindblom, 23, a Sweden native, was having a breakout season and shared the team lead with 11 goals when the Flyers announced his diagnosis on Dec. 13. Early in the season, Lindblom, Sean Couturier, and Travis Konecny formed the Flyers’ top line.
The Flyers have said they hope he will be able to play in 2020-21. A club official said he will not be available for the upcoming 24-team NHL tournament.
Lindblom said he thought the team had a “great chance” to go far this year. “I felt our team was so good together,” he said. “I can’t wait to see them again and start practicing with them. I think we have a great chance to push for a great playoff run here.”
Earlier this month, Lindblom was named the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
At the time, Lindblom issued a statement through the team, saying he was “honored to be nominated for this special award. This past season has been a difficult one, for sure, but the positive support I’ve received from my family, my girlfriend, teammates, the Flyers organization, and Flyers fans has been a tremendous help and inspiration through these times.
“I look forward to the day I’m back on the ice.”
That day, surprisingly, was Tuesday. Several Flyers have been skating in voluntary, small-group sessions at their training facility in Voorhees, including Couturier, Ivan Provorov, Nic Aube-Kubel, Joel Farabee, Alex Lyon, Carter Hart, Carsen Twarynski, and Mark Friedman. The rest of the players are skating near their homes in the United States, Canada, and Europe.