Former NHL star Eric Lindros returned a call to Metro yesterday but was not willing to discuss the mysteries surrounding him after my refusal to divulge the identities of my sources.

Three sources with the NHL Players Association told Metro last week that they were unhappy with the work – or lack of work – from Lindros as the union’s ombudsman this season and were discussing the notion of dismissing him early in the new year.

At the same time, sources outside the NHLPA told Metro that Lindros was dealing with health problems not usually associated with anyone as young as him.

Lindros, 35, called me on a speaker phone from the NHLPA office on Monday and asked me to give up my sources. When I explained that I couldn't, he said he had nothing to say and hung up.

I called back and asked him if, as sources had told me, he had suffered a heart attack. "No, I have not had a heart attack," he said, and that was the end of the call.

In the first conversation, he asked me if I had spoken to anyone other than NHLPA official Glen Healy. Again, I would not say.

Healy told Metro last week that he has not seen Lindros in at least three weeks, comments that were echoed by several other union employees.

“Eric’s not easily accessible,” an NHLPA employee said. He also said: "We haven’t seen him in a very long time.”

Ex-NHLer Steve Larmer, a member of the NHLPA’s advisory board, told Metro he wasn’t “at liberty to either confirm or deny anything at all about Eric.”

Both Larmer and Healy said they weren’t aware of any health issues affecting Lindros.

Another NHLPA executive, however, said Lindros has put on “an unbelievable amount of weight” since retiring as a player after last season.

The Big E, as he is known, spent 13 seasons in the NHL. He joined the NHLPA in the newly created role of ombudsman before this season and was also supposed to double as a non-voting member of the executive board.

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