Esa Lindell quietly grew into a club icon – one delusion amuses the solid NHL star | Sport

Esa Lindell quietly grew into a club icon – one

When he got his puck education in Jokers Esa Lindell29, left after a successful Ässät season to pursue an NHL place in Dallas, his player profile looked very different from now.

Lindell had won the points exchange for the defenders of the SM league and had been selected for the World Cup. Even in the World Cup, six points were scored in eight games (1+5). Lindell was the Lions’ most effective defender.

In the NHL, however, the player profile quickly took a new direction.

– At first I had to adapt to the style of play there and then I noticed that my attacking skills were not as top-class as they should be if you wanted to play that role. Then I started thinking about what else I could do to help the team, Lindell recalls.

Lindell found his way quickly.

Since then, the defender from Helsinki has grown into the leading sheriff downstairs of the Texan combination in a convincing way. In fact, Lindell has long profiled as one of the best defensive backs in the league.

Lindell has already played an impressive 597 regular season games in a Dallas shirt and collected 101 plus points. Between 2016 and 2024, only 13 NHL defensemen have a better power stat reading than Lindell.

In the matches played, Lindell can be found in 7th place.

– My playing then went pretty quickly in the direction of tough defending, blocking shots and playing underpowered.

A specialist in special situations

With Alivoima, Lindell has really lute. Although Lindell was known as a skill player when he was younger, in the NHL he has adopted a rough style of play that even wears down opponents in the right way.

Lindell is a strong fighter who doesn’t hesitate to cause pain to the opponent appropriately within the rules. The coaches haven’t pushed Lindell into important own-end starts or underpowered situations for no reason.

Over the past nine years, Lindell has played more underpowered than any other defenseman in the NHL.

– Consistency has certainly been a good thing in my own game that I have been able to lean on.

– It has actually amused me sometimes when other Finns have talked about my way of playing or my confusion. I’m not going to play on the ice any more or anything. Maybe the speech is a sign that I’m good at what I do, though. I defend well and that way I am constantly on the skin, Lindell grins.

On the other hand, Lindell has also had to modify his game a little in the ever-accelerating time. There is a clear theme in the basic defender’s statistics, where the number of tackles has clearly dropped and the number of blocks on the other hand has increased.

– I wasn’t even aware of this. Maybe it’s because young people are so damn smart these days that it’s harder to pull them up.

– It’s certainly a smarter placement than today, and that’s how the blocks come. On the other hand, their roofs wouldn’t stretch at all if there were more tackles, Lindell laughs.

The elder statesman’s wisdom is also shown by the way Lindell defends at a top level year after year, but without ice.

For example, in the previous three seasons, Dallas’ loanee has been sitting on the ice for only 34 minutes. The figure is the seventh lowest among defenders who have played at least 3,000 minutes.

– Maybe it’s cleverness. When I got to the World Championships after the ace season, especially Kari Jalonen hoki it when we work on our feet. When it’s easy to get cold these days, I try to keep the bat down and do the work with my feet. Then hit the stick or puck with the stick. It eliminates quite a lot of whining and hooking.

Esa Lindell has already quietly had a fantastic NHL career. There has been no big noise or headlines from his 600-match NHL career, even though the stout basic pack speaks of a real elite player of his own role in the world’s toughest league. At the same time, only 29-year-old Lindell is making a strong ascent in everyone’s domestic match statistics.

When he stays healthy, Lindell can easily reach the 1,000 NHL game mark if he wants to. In Finland, only defenders have crossed the magical limit Prank Numminen and Kimmo Timonen. Remember the active ones Rasmus Ristolainen and Olli Määttä are potential tuna club members.

– Time will tell, but it could be quite possible. Of course, when you play hard, you also need luck in the form of health, Lindell reminds.

Loyalty over money

Also in Dallas, Lindell is rising to the ranks of iconic players. Lindell has only 242 matches to go to the top of the match statistics in the club’s history (1993–). Sergei Zubov once played 839 regular season games in a star jersey.

Power stat +101 is enough for defenders to rank third and for all players to rank sixth. From the current team, only the captain Jamie Benn has represented Dallas longer than Esa Lindell.

Lindell’s contract runs until the summer of 2025, and the rough base pack has no desire to change scenery even after that.

– That’s how you can tell that the years have passed, when a younger guy comes in all the time. I’m approaching thirty myself. The older players already warned about this before, that when you are here, you have to know how to enjoy it.

– I can say that directly, in terms of the next contract, the money is more important to continue in Dallas, Lindell concludes.