Big E's jerseys are a big seller

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

Eric Lindros now has plenty of company wanting to wear No. 88 for the Maple Leafs.

Sports retailers contacted by The Sun say orders for the Lindros jersey have shot up, enhanced no doubt by his fine play during the club's three-game winning streak.

"He's definitely in the lead," said Bill King, manager of National Sports Centre in Oshawa's Five Points Mall.

"He's big here anyway (because he played junior for the Oshawa Generals), but sales have been good since he signed."

FILLING THE VOID

At Sports Fantasy at Scarborough Town Centre, manager Sean Kane said Lindros was running just ahead of other newcomers Jeff O'Neill and Jason Allison.

Kane said all three have filled the void left by Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk, while Bryan McCabe has remained popular.

A spokesperson for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. said Lindros sweater sales are up 50% at the Centre Sport store in the Air Canada Centre since last week, and on any given game night account for 30% of all replica Leaf jersey sales.

But Richard Peddie, president of MLSEL, says replica sweaters "are the most exaggerated revenue line items" for National Hockey League teams.

"In all, we get about one/30th of what's sold outside our building (divided among all teams)," Peddie said. "I don't think that would even amount to six figures. What's important to us is the brand recognition when people wear them around town."

Like every NHLer, Lindros does not get a personal cut of sweater revenue, though the players' association realizes a percentage.

Many people questioned the wisdom of giving Lindros a contract, even for one year at $1.55 million US.

But just two weeks into the season, Lindros is taking nothing for granted.

"I didn't listen to (naysayers) in the first place," Lindros said yesterday at Lakeshore Lions Arena.

"We are feeling good. We're moving along."


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