LONDON, Ontario - Eric Lindros, a former top draft pick and NHL MVP, once dubbed "The Next One" as the heir apparent to Wayne Gretzky announced his retirement on Thursday, ending a career full of promise that was never quite realised.
Despite averaging more than a point a game through an injury plagued 13-year NHL career and helping Canada to the gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics, Lindros' impact was not as great as the toll eight concussions took on his health.
The concussions -- including one that kept him out for the entire 2000-2001 season -- combined with a collapsed lung and numerous surgeries on knees, shoulders and wrists forced the 34-year-old into retirement and inspired him to make a $5 million donation to the London (Ontario) Health Sciences Foundation.
The gift is one of the largest single donations made by a Canadian athlete and will support the Kennedy Sports Medicine Clinic where Lindros often received treatment during his career.
"I'm done playing," Lindros told reporters. "I felt strong about this, good about this in my heart, in my mind... .
"It's the way things rolled. You can't control when your wrist is going to fall apart, when your knee is going, when your shoulder is needing surgery.
"I enjoyed my time playing. I played with the best, I played against the best. It was a blast."
Before the 6-foot, 5-inches (1.95m), 245-pounds (111kg) Lindros came along, the NHL had never seen a player who combined skill and speed with toughness, which was recognised by fellow professionals.
"When Eric came into the league he defined the modern day player ... who could skate the way a 5'9" forward use to and with his skill and mean streak he defined what a power forward was going into the next era," said Mark Messier, who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday.
The outspoken Lindros, who is now expected to become an official for the players' union, challenged the NHL establishment from the moment he was drafted first overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1991 and he said he would not play for the team.
The Nordiques ended the stalemate by trading his rights to the Philadelphia Flyers for five players, including Peter Forsberg, a first-round draft pick and US$15 million in cash.
"I had a different opinion a few times," said Lindros. "The only thing I might have done different was make people understand why I did what I did.
"It had nothing to do with the city, the culture. It had to do with ownership."
Lindros blossomed in Philadelphia, winning the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player in 1995. He scored 372 goals and had 865 points in 760 games with Philadelphia, Toronto, the New York Rangers and Dallas but never won a Stanley Cup.