Eric's $5M gift

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

The Big E doesn't say good-bye in small ways.

Closing the door on one of the most controversial and forceful careers in professional hockey yesterday, Eric Lindros capped news of his NHL retirement by donating $5 million to the London Health Sciences Centre -- one of the largest one-time gifts ever received by the facility's foundation.

Part of the money, which is believed to be the largest contribution given by an athlete in Canada, will be earmarked for the Fowler Kennedy Sports Medicine Clinic where Lindros, a London native, was treated for various injuries throughout his career.

The 34-year-old Lindros attended a dinner for old friend and clinic co-founder Dr. Peter Fowler, who is currently establishing a similar sports medicine setup in Qatar.

"I've been getting all these thank-yous but I look at this as a small token for what they've done for me over the years," said Lindros, who is expected to start his new off-ice career by becoming the ombudsman of the National Hockey League Players Association. "I believe it's because of this care that my career lasted as long as it did. They never compromised the medical attention I needed."

When ranked against the Giving Back Foundation's top-30 list from 2006, Lindros' generosity would put him at No. 2 in personal charitable contributions behind only Tiger Woods.

Cliff Nordal, chief executive of LSHC, called the hockey player an inspiration.

"You've set the bar," he told Lindros at the event at the London Hunt and Country Club.

The money will help complete the building at LHSC's University Hospital, which houses the Brent and Marilyn Kelman Centre for advanced learning, Dr. Sandy Kirkley Centre in Musculoskeletal Research, the Centre for Clinical Investigation and Therapeutics and the Matthew Mailing Centre for Translational Transplant Research.

In emcee Bill Brady's introduction of Fowler, he joked the respected surgeon had recently moved into a house in Qatar with a two-camel garage.

Fowler tried in vain to get his former star patient to admit how much dough he was dropping into London health care. "A lot of camels," Lindros quipped.

The hockey player had such faith in Fowler and the London sports clinic, he had bucked his own club's doctors in favour of an opinion from the medical team he trusted.

Lindros made annual pilgrimages to his hometown to take part in the clinic's golf tournament, but the cutting of such a big cheque tops it all.

"(Former Philadelphia Flyers GM) Bobby Clarke and I were not friends all the time he was here," Fowler said. "Eric's gift will transform orthopedic and sports medicine, research and education. He has been good to us in the past, but this is really good."


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