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Two Tough Mothers

Illustration for article titled Two Tough Mothers

Here's Charlie Pierce's 1991 Sports Illustrated story on Bettie Taylor and Bonnie Lindros:

They do not lose, these two women. Bettie beat the Yankees, and it's better than even money that Bonnie is going to stare down the NHL. After all, both of these mothers hold an unassailable bit of high ground—it is their children that the nervous executives need. And it's awkward for any sports team to promote itself as entertainment for the whole family while it attempts to pillory a woman for acting upon one of the most basic family values of all: Don't Sell the Kids.

"I never hear Daddy jokes, never," says Eric Lindros. "What I hear are Mommy jokes."

Eric went to Dallas last summer to be photographed for a series of trading cards. All the No. 1 draft picks were there. The Charlotte Hornets' Larry Johnson, whose mother, Dortha, raised him alone, was there. So was Brien Taylor. Eric is baseball silly, so he fell into conversation with Brien, and they talked about their mothers. Good mothers both, but more than that. Strong women, bred in their own ways to compete and to win. Fearsome opponents for the whiskey hours of the poker game.

Bonnie Lindros, 42, is talking about her days as a high school track star. "I was," she says, "a great standing broad."

There is a two-beat, and then there is this huge, 200-watt laugh. Brassy, it would have been called some years ago. Flo Ziegfeld would have cast Bonnie Lindros on sight, and she would have made Fanny Brice look like a Carmelite. Bonnie's laugh is good to have if you're going to be a Hockey Mom. You can laugh at all the cold, cracked-gray dawns and all the crowded, sweaty rides and all the coffee poured hot and thin out of battered machines and all the tin-pot rinks from Trois-Rivières to Norman Wells and back again.

Hockey Moms are cheery sorts, fiercely uncompromising in their belief that the next great player is munching potato chips there in the back scat. They are dedicated to working through the system. The stolid conformity endemic to the sport is first instilled by the Hockey Mom, who is an establishment figure first and always. One morning not long ago, it flashed upon Bonnie Lindros that the next great player was indeed asleep in the next room. And hockey's panjandrums, equally convinced that Eric Lindros was the best young player in the game, anticipated dealing with just another Hockey Mom. They were, ah, incorrect.

"I don't chew gum, and I don't have a [team] jacket," says Bonnie, and then there's that laugh again.

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