Lindbergh was the heart of the Flyers. When everything else went wrong, offensively or defensively, the 26-year-old goaltender stood tall in the nets.
His consistency and quick reflexes kept the Flyers in the game until the National Hockey League team got back on track.
Lindbergh, the top goalie in the NHL last year, was reported brain dead yesterday after his sports car slammed into a wall. He was kept alive by a respirator at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital - Stratford Division in Stratford, N.J., team officials said.
Lindbergh, who came to the United States from Sweden in 1980 to pursue a professional hockey career, had become the only European goalie to star in the NHL.
A flashy goalie with glittery lifestyle that included a Mercedes and a customized Porsche, Lindbergh won the hearts of Philadelphia fans, whose cheers of "Pel-le, Pel-le, Pel-le", regularly filled the Spectrum.
"He loved fast cars. He loved his Porsche," Flyers spokesman Rodger Gottleib said.
Lindbergh is the second Flyers goalie whose career was cut short. In 1979, the career of Bernie Parent, now in the Hockey Hall of Fame, was cut short when he was struck in the eye with a stick. Parent has been Lindbergh's goaltending coach with the Flyers.
The Flyers won two Stanley Cups with Parent in goal and haven't won one since. But last year, with Lindbergh as the linchpin, they reached the final round.
Before Lindbergh's accident, the chances were considered good that in 1985-86 the team would return to the finals and perhaps win the Cup for the first time since 1974-75.
Flyer general manager Bob Clarke said the accident left in team in a deep state of shock.
"Not only was Pelle a great goalie, a key man in our team moving up to be a serious contender, he was an extremely well-liked player, a positive guy who inspired a lot of faith," Clarke said.
"He liked to drive fast and we told him repeatedly to slow down. But I suppose when you're young, strong and full of life you think you're invulnerable to everything. I guess it's natural to feel that nothing can ever happen to you."
"It's going to take a couple of days for this to sink in. We do know that it's an enormous loss for his family and our hockey team. We haven't made any decisions on our goaltending or any other part of it"
The Flyers gathered at the hospital yesterday morning as word of Lindbergh's situation and were joined by coach Mike Keenan. The team went to their training rink, the Coliseum in nearby Voorhees, N.J., for a meeting.
"We're going to work with the family to decide how far they want us to go in sustaining biological life," Gallo said.
The elder Lindbergh, a retired shipyard worker, has a "signifcant heart condition" a family members were worried about the strain as he travelled to the United States, Viner said. The hockey star's mother, Anna-Lisa, was visiting her son before the accident.
Mrs.Lindbergh and Pelle's fiance, Kerstin Pietzsch, have been at her beside, Viner said.
"I want him to live, but I want him to be a person." the tearful Pietzsch said Sunday. "I always worried about a car accident, but he laughed at me. He told me not to worry, but I worried."
The two passangers in Lindbergh's car, both friends who squeezed into the front seat of his Porsche, were seriously injured and remained in hospital.
Kathyleen McNeal, 22, of Ridley Park Pa., was in stable condition at Kennedy Memorial with injuries to the liver and spleen. Edward Parvin, 28, was in critical condition at Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center, Camden, with a fractured skull.
In addition to critical brain injuries, Lindbergh suffer fractures of the hip, leg and jaw. He was "twisted up like a pretzel" and pinned in the wreckage, said Sommerdale police Det. Charles Pope.
Lindbergh's sports car failed to make a curve on a road in nearby Sommerdale and smashed into a wall in front of an elementary school at about 5:40 a.m. Sunday.
Lindbergh and his friends had just left an after-hours bar at the athletic complex in Vorhees, where the Flyers train.
"He had a fair amount to drink," Viner said. "Pelle was not a drunk. He did drink too much (before the accident). Kids have done this after games for years. I hope that sends a very strong message to student athletes."
Noting that the Flyers had one 10 games in a row, general manager Bobby Clarke said Lindbergh was apparently out celebrating "and like so many celebrations, alcohol was involved."