Rangers make trade for Lindros official

Big E hits Big Apple

Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2001

NEW YORK -- Eric Lindros was on the ice the last time the New York Rangers were in the playoffs.

Back then, four long years ago, Lindros was the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers. He helped eliminate the Rangers and went on to the only appearance in the Stanley Cup finals in his eight seasons with Flyers.

Concussion after concussion later, a bitter rift unfolded between Lindros and the Flyers and that culminated with his trade to the Rangers on Monday.

The Flyers dealt the six-time All-Star to the Rangers, ending a 15-month ordeal for Lindros, his father/agent Carl and Philadelphia general manager Bob Clarke.

New York sent left wing Jan Hlavac, defenseman Kim Johnsson, young forward Pavel Brendl and a third-round draft pick in 2003 to the Flyers, for Lindros -- a restricted free agent -- who then signed a four-year contract reportedly worth around $38 million with New York.

''I look at this as something fresh,'' Lindros said. ''I look at it as an opportunity to get Ranger hockey back on the map and to get back in the playoffs and to cause some havoc.''

The 28-year-old former MVP hasn't played since May 26, 2000, when a check from New Jersey's Scott Stevens in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals gave him his sixth concussion.

Lindros rejected Philadelphia's $8.5 million qualifying offer last season, making him a free agent. He's been sitting since then.

''I never got too high, I never got too low about the situation,'' he said. ''I just waited until the final phone call. When that come through, I was ecstatic.''

Philadelphia will send a first-round pick in 2003 to the Rangers if Lindros goes down with a head injury during the preseason or within the first 50 games of the regular season and doesn't return to action for at least 12 months.

''I understand that people are skeptical because of the concussion history, but we're just going to have to win them over,'' Lindros said. ''I know when I'm healthy I can play this game, and I think I will be healthy.''

Rangers general manager Glen Sather was having a difficult summer, losing out on prized free agents and failing to acquire NHL scoring champion Jaromir Jagr who was traded from Pittsburgh to Washington.

Sather then made the best deal he could to get Lindros.

''I'm very comfortable with what we did,'' Sather said.

Clarke is thrilled to have eliminated the Lindros cloud.

''He hurt this organization. I could care less about him,'' he said in a news conference in Voorhees, N.J.

In November, Lindros only waited to be traded to his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. Days before the trade deadline in March, Lindros added St. Louis, Detroit and Washington to his list. He added the Rangers last month.

''Because I had so much time off I was also having time for the extra bit of healing if it needed to take form,'' Lindros said. ''Having that extra bit of caution might not have been the worst thing in the world.''

Lindros has been able to dictate where he would play throughout his career. After being drafted No. 1 overall by Quebec in 1991, he refused to sign and sat out an entire season before being traded to the Flyers for six players, two first-round draft choices and $15 million.

The Rangers also claimed they made a deal for Lindros before an arbitrator ruled Quebec's deal with the Flyers was valid.

Once there, Clarke accused Carl and Bonnie Lindros of constantly meddling in the team's affairs.

''He's 28. If he's going to continue to let his parents play a part in his life, that's up to him,'' Clarke said. ''It didn't work here. Maybe it'll work in New York.''

Lindros' relationship with Clarke, his childhood hero, deteriorated to where the two didn't speak for months during the 1999-00 season.

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, 2000.

Clarke stripped Lindros of his captaincy, and the star was ostracized from the team until returning for Games 6 and 7 of the 2000 series against the Devils.

''Getting rid of Lindros is no satisfaction,'' Clarke said. ''We could have got rid of him any time we wanted. We didn't want to do that, we wanted to trade him.''

With the Flyers, Lindros had 290 goals and 369 assists. He won the MVP award in 1995, and two years later led the Flyers into the finals where they were swept by Detroit.

Hlavac scored 28 goals for the Rangers last season, Johnsson is a solid, puck-carrying defenseman and Brendl was the No. 4 overall pick in the 1999 draft.

''We think we ended up doing what we hoped to do right from the start, and that was to get some young players,'' Clarke said. ''We wanted to get more scoring into our lineup.

''I guess relief is a good word. It's been hanging over the team's head for a long time. ... So I guess it's good he's gone and we've got the players in return so we can start worrying about our own team again.''

Lindros will return to Philadelphia for the first time Sept. 20 for a preseason game. His first game back at the First Union Center in the regular season will be Jan. 12.

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