Flyers' GM says no team has offered for Lindros
Updated: Wednesday November 29, 2000 3:56 AM
VOORHEES, N.J. (AP) -- Eric Lindros might be better off if an arbitrator decides his future one more time.
Lindros, who came to the Philadelphia Flyers in a trade in 1992 after a ruling by arbitrator Larry Bertuzzi, has been cleared to resume playing nearly six months after his sixth concussion.
The problem this time is finding him a team.
Eight years ago, Lindros had plenty of suitors and Bertuzzi had to rule whether the Flyers or New York Rangers had acquired him first in a trade with the Quebec Nordiques.
The 27-year-old restricted free agent said Tuesday he wants to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Flyers general manager Bob Clarke responded by saying he hasn't spoken to any team about Lindros.
But Toronto general manager Pat Quinn later said he had discussions with the Flyers as recently as Saturday regarding a deal for the star center.
Hockey's most compelling soap opera continues.
"We haven't had any offers at all from any team for Eric," Clarke said from the team's practice complex. "We're certainly not going to try and stop Eric from playing in the National Hockey League, but we are going to make the best deal with any club that we can for the Flyers."
Lindros rejected an $8.5 million qualifying offer from the Flyers this past summer, recently declined to meet with Clarke to discuss his future and made it clear he will not return to Philadelphia because of a contentious relationship with the general manager.
"I'd really like to play in Toronto," Lindros said after an on-ice workout at York University in Toronto. "It's a great organization, a great city and being from here, it just seems to be a good fit."
Clarke doesn't appear in any hurry to find a new team for his former captain.
"Eric may want to play in Toronto, but that may not happen," Clarke said. "First of all, Toronto has to say they want him, and they have to give us compensation for him, and they have to be able to sign him.
"If someone comes along whether it's the Rangers or somebody else and offers us more than what somebody else has offered, we'll go with the best deal for the club."
Lindros said Clarke told him "to go find a deal."
"I think things are warming up," Lindros said.
But Clarke denied even speaking to Lindros.
"He's a free agent. I certainly wouldn't let him put a deal together," Clarke said. "I wouldn't let anybody put a deal together for our team. He can talk to any team he wants, but he's not putting a deal together for us."
Lindros hasn't played since May 26, when a check by New Jersey's Scott Stevens gave him his sixth concussion in slightly more than two years. It was only his second game after a 2 1/2-month absence because of postconcussion syndrome.
"Is a healthy Eric Lindros of interest to us? You bet." Quinn said. "Playing the way Eric plays, yes certainly. But under the circumstances, nobody can guarantee that sort of thing and we're not about to take all the risk in this."
Bill Watters, assistant to the Leafs president, said any deal for Lindros had to include conditions.
"The only condition that has to be is that all three stakeholders -- the Philadelphia Flyers, the Lindros group, and the acquiring team -- have to share the risk equally," Watters said. "If that balance is not there then there's no deal."
Lindros' former teammates are tired of the distractions, and have put the situation behind them.
"You'll have to talk to Eric. I don't want to get into it," said John LeClair, a good friend and former linemate of Lindros. "We have a game against Columbus tomorrow and he's not playing."
Flyers coach Craig Ramsay joked that the team could use the distraction. Philadelphia got within one game of the Stanley Cup finals this past spring despite constant turmoil surrounding the organization.
"We seem to function better under those conditions," Ramsay said. "It will be [a distraction] because everybody will ask a lot about him, but we'll deal with it."
Lindros had 28 goals and 32 assists in 57 games this past season, including four periods of the playoffs. He has made six All-Star teams and won the MVP award in 1995, but the Flyers lost in their only Stanley Cup final with him.
Lindros' relationship with Clarke reached a point this past season where the two didn't speak for months.
The boiling point came after Lindros criticized the team's medical staff for failing to diagnose his second concussion of the season on March 4.
Clarke then stripped Lindros of his captaincy, and the franchise player was ostracized until he returned for Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against New Jersey.
"I don't like what Eric did to this club, but my responsibility is to the Flyers, not to Eric Lindros and we're going to do what's right for the Flyers," Clarke said.
The Los Angeles Kings are interested.
"I think we'll inquire, yes," general manager Dave Taylor said in New York, where the Kings played the Rangers on Tuesday night.
"We'll probably wait for him to call us," said Rangers GM Glen Sather.