Flyers finally rid of Lindros

Bob Clarke finally washed his hands of Eric Lindros on Monday.

"I guess relief is a good word. It's been hanging over the club's head for a long time," the Philadelphia GM told a news conference at the Flyers' practice facility.

"Even though our team has played pretty well, it's still somewhat of a distraction because you're always thinking what are we going to get for this guy. And it's been 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."

Asked if he had any wishes for Lindros in New York, Clarke answered: "No, I don't care. He hurt this organization. I could care less about him."

In return for Lindros, the Flyers get winger Jan Hlavac, defenceman Kim Johnsson, young forward Pavel Brendl and a third-round draft pick.

Philadelphia will send a conditional first-round pick to the Rangers if Lindros suffers a head injury in the 2001-02 pre-season or during the first 50 games of the regular season and is unable to play for at least 12 months because of the injury.

The Flyers' news conference happened one hour before the Rangers announced the trade with their own media event at Madison Square Garden.

Asked by a reporter whether the Flyers had got the best of the deal from the Rangers, Clarke noted deals are usually rated by who gets the best player and that the best player in this deal was Lindros.

Clarke still managed to show an edge in Monday's news conference when asked if he would do anything differently.

"Not really," he said. "Lindros belongs to the Rangers now, so there's no point in rehashing old stuff.

"But I thought that once we made up our minds that we weren't going to allow him and his dad (agent Carl Lindros) to abuse people who work here anymore, then we were fine."

Lindros, a 28-year-old former MVP, hasn't played in nearly 15 months after a check from New Jersey's Scott Stevens in Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Final gave him his sixth career concussion.

Lindros sat out last season and refused to return to the Flyers because of a contentious relationship with Clarke.

Once he was cleared to resume skating last November, Lindros said he would play only for his home-town Toronto Maple Leafs.

Days before the trade deadline in March, Lindros added St. Louis, Detroit and Washington to his list.

He added the Rangers to the list last month.

The Flyers came close to dealing Lindros to Toronto, the New York Islanders, St. Louis, Detroit and Edmonton.

But each time, the deal fell through.

Clarke, on several occasions, said he was willing to let Lindros sit until he became an unrestricted free agent in 2004.

But Clarke couldn't pass up this deal.

Lindros' relationship with Clarke, his childhood hero, deteriorated to a point 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 then stripped Lindros of his captaincy and the star was ostracized from the team until he returned for Games 6 and 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Final against the Devils.

Clarke also had issues with Lindros' parents.

He accused Carl and Bonnie Lindros of constantly meddling in the team's affairs.

He said Carl called him and insisted the team not trade for certain players for reasons ranging from the player doesn't pass the puck enough or Eric doesn't like the player's agent.

After suffering a collapsed lung in Nashville on April 1, 1999, Lindros and his family had little confidence in the team's medical staff because the potentially life-threatening injury wasn't diagnosed until the following day.

In eight injury-filled seasons with the Flyers, Lindros had 290 goals and 369 assists.

He made six all-star teams and won the MVP award in 1995, but the Flyers were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in their only Stanley Cup final with him four years ago.

Lindros will return to Philadelphia for the first time Sept. 20 for a pre-season game.

His first game back at the First Union Center in the regular season will be Jan. 12.