ST. PAUL, Minn. — Flyers left winger Oskar Lindblom has a rare medical condition and is expected to miss the rest of the season, the team announced Friday.
Lindblom, 23, has Ewing’s sarcoma, which was diagnosed by leading specialists at the University of Pennsylvania, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said. He will undergo further testing and evaluation next week before beginning treatment, Fletcher added.
“The Flyers will do everything possible to support Oskar and assist him in securing the best care possible,” Fletcher said in a statement.
Ewing’s sarcoma is a very rare cancerous tumor that grows in the bones or the soft tissue around the bones. It usually affects people from the ages of 10 to 20. It is diagnosed in about 250 children and young adults every year in the United States – slightly more males than females, and most of them white.
The cancer is usually treated with chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. If it hasn’t spread beyond the site of origin, the cure rates are near 80 percent. It can spread to the lungs, other bones, and bone marrow, so chemotherapy is important to kill micrometastases.
Scot Brown, chief of orthopaedic oncology at Rothman Orthopaedics Institute, said the fact that Lindblom is a professional athlete could benefit him down the road.
“In dealing with any diagnosis where you have to deal with the effects of chemotherapy and potentially either radiation or surgery or some combination of both, that can help in terms of his recovery,” he said Friday night.
Without knowing the details of Lindblom’s case, Brown said it was impossible to gauge whether his career would be over. “There are instances,” he said, “that it doesn’t have to be.”
He cited Mark Herzlich, a Wayne, Pa., native, as an example.
Herzlich, who was the winner of the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association’s Most Courageous Award in 2011, is among the former athletes who overcame Ewing’s sarcoma.
The disease was diagnosed while Herzlich was at Boston College, The linebacker, a one-time player at Conestoga High, returned for his senior year at Boston College and later had a successful six-year NFL career with the New York Giants, helping them win Super Bowl XLVI.
Fletcher, said that, out of respect to Lindblom and his family, the team would have no further comment.
Lindblom was having a breakout season and shared the Flyers’ team lead with 11 goals. He missed Wednesday’s game in Colorado because of what Fletcher called an “upper-body injury” but played in the team’s other 30 contests this season. Lindblom had missed practice Monday in Voorhees -- the team called it a “maintenance day” -- but he was back at practice Tuesday.
He did not travel with the team for its current three-game road trip.
A native of Sweden, Lindblom was blossoming into one of the Flyers’ best all-around players. Earlier this season, he, Sean Couturier, and Travis Konecny formed the Flyers’ most effective line.
“Very coachable. And he plays a real intelligent game, a north-south game,” coach Alain Vigneault said last month about Lindblom. “He goes to the tough areas.”
Lindblom, known for his easy-going, humble nature, and his perpetual smile, was a fifth-round steal (138th overall) in the 2014 draft.
“It’s nice to know even if you get drafted in the late rounds, you can be on this level,” he said recently.
Playing against men much older than him, Lindblom was named the Swedish Hockey League’s best forward in 2016-17 as he collected 22 goals (second in the league) and 47 points in 52 games.
The hockey world, and beyond, showed their support to Lindblom on social media.
Tweeted Derek Settlemyre, the Flyers’ equipment manager: “We are fighting with our brother [Oskar Lindblom]. We love you bro!”
"Together we are #OskarStrong,” the Flyers tweeted.
Many opposing players and teams also showed Lindblom their support on social media.