August 2, 2000
Flyers may deal Lindros if offer improves team
Leafs, Rangers interested?: Citing his well-being, injured centre
wants out of Philadelphia
By ALAN ADAMS
It was announced on Tuesday that Eric Lindros will not accept an $8.5-
million US qualifying offer with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Toronto
Maple Leafs appear to be the frontrunners to acquire the former
Flyers captain in a trade.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Rangers emerged last night
as the front-runners in the chase for Eric Lindros, who in a stunning
move decided not to accept an US$8.5-million offer from the
"He's expressed an interest in us and we've talked about him
[internally]," said Bill Watters, the Leafs executive who handles
contract negotiations for the club. "We'll see what happens."
The Leafs and Rangers were given permission by Philadelphia to talk
to Lindros in June.
The Flyers were attempting to deal their star centre before the
deadline for making a qualifying offer that would enable the team to
retain his rights. In turning down the Flyers moments before the
Monday midnight deadline for responding to the offer, Lindros sent a
clear signal that he did not want to play again in Philadelphia.
"At the end of the day, this wasn't a business decision," said Gordon
Kirke, Lindros's lawyer. "It was about making the right decision for
Eric's health and well-being.
"He would rather not be contractually tied to the Philadelphia
Flyers ... it is what Eric thinks is best for him."
Lindros and his agent/father, Carl Lindros, have clashed repeatedly
with Flyers general manager Bob Clarke. Clarke has accused the
Lindros family of interfering in the Flyers' affairs and belittling
its medical staff, while the Lindros camp has been critical of the
medical care the player received during a series of concussions last
Lindros is now free to negotiate a deal with any team in the NHL, but
the Flyers have the right to retain him if they match any offer. Even
if they don't, they would be eligible for compensation that could be
as high as five first-round draft picks.
The more likely scenario is a trade.
"By Eric declining our offer, it's a pretty strong indicator he does
not want to come back here," Clarke said. "And if a trade is
available to us that is good for the Flyers we will do that."
But striking a deal for Lindros will not be easy, mainly because of
the player's suspect health.
Lindros is recovering from his sixth career concussion, and he's
expected to miss at least the first three months of the 2000 season.
"The issue is his health," said Toronto's Watters. "What if he does
not play? You can't wait until January to do the deal."
Lindros has been under the care of Chicago concussion specialist Dr.
James Kelly and Kirke said Lindros has visited another concussion
specialist in Montreal.
Sources say Lindros went to the second specialist at the request of
an NHL team, most likely the Maple Leafs.
Glen Sather, general manager of the Rangers, agreed Lindros's health
is the big question mark.
"You have to find out medically where he's at," replied Sather when
asked about how he'd go about making a deal for Lindros. "You have to
know what's in the medical reports."
Then there's the matter of how much to pay Lindros. A healthy Lindros
would command a wage of US$8.5-million or more, but no one knows how
much a concussion-prone Lindros is worth.
Kirke acknowledged that Lindros would likely not get offers as high
as US$8.5-million, the amount the player made last season and which
the Flyers had to offer for the upcoming season in order to retain
"He has a passion, an intensity like most elite athletes do. He wants
to play the game. He's dedicated his life thus far to playing hockey
and there's nothing that would give him greater pleasure right now
than being back on the ice in a healthy situation.
"Does he need to [play] financially? No he doesn't," said Kirke.