Maple Leafs sign Lindros for 1 year

Nearly 15 years after making his National Hockey League debut with the Philadelphia Flyers, Eric Lindros is coming home to Toronto to fulfill a lifelong dream.

The six-foot-five-inch, 245-pound centre agreed Thursday to a one-year contract with the Maple Leafs.

GM John Ferguson presented Lindros with a No. 88 Leaf jersey at a late-afternoon news conference at the Air Canada Centre.

"It's a little dusty," Lindros joked, referring to his long history of being linked to Toronto.

"It's about time. This is great. I'm really excited about it. It's a dream come true," he added.

According to one report, the deal is worth $1.55 million US.

The Columbus Blue Jackets reportedly made Lindros a one-year, $1.5 million offer but dropped out of the bidding on Wednesday.

"Teams were still calling this morning, the interest really picked up, it's interesting how it worked out," said Carl Lindros, Eric's father and agent. "But this is a good situation for him. It's what he wanted."

Lindros's arrival in Toronto has been rumoured since 2001 when the Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers apparently came close to consummating a trade.

The 32-year-old returns to southern Ontario, where he was raised and played junior hockey.

Though injury prone throughout his 11-year NHL career – he has suffered eight concussions – the Big E remains a dominating force.

He had 10 goals and 22 assists in 39 games for the New York Rangers in the 2003-04 campaign before Washington Capitals defenceman Jason Doig put an end to his season with a thundering bodycheck.

Lindros, who had his right shoulder surgically repaired in March, reportedly passed a physical and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam earlier this week.

"There's always a risk of something happening, but I'm working on stickhandling with my head up," he said, joking about his concussion history.

"On average, in the past three years, Eric has missed five games a year with concussions," said Carl Lindros. "That's fewer than Peter Forsberg or Jeremy Roenick. The bulk of Eric's concussions came in one year."

On the downside, Lindros's goal total has dwindled from 37 to 19 to 10 over the past three seasons.

With the Leafs, he will provide some offensive punch and give Toronto a big body to park in front of the opposition's crease, something the team has desired for years.

Lindros, a seven-time NHL all-star, won the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player in 1994-95. He also took home the Lester B. Pearson Award as the most outstanding player as voted by the players.

Lindros, who won gold with Team Canada at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, has scored 356 goals and 461 assists in 678 career games.

In other NHL moves Thursday:

  • Montreal re-signed forward Mike Ribeiro and defenceman Mike Komisarek to one-year contracts and goaltender Jaroslav Halak, a ninth-round 2003 draft pick, to a three-year deal.

  • Boston signed Joe Thornton to a three-year deal.

  • Ottawa re-signed goaltender Ray Emery to a one-year contract.

  • Calgary announced that Steve Reinprecht has accepted a qualifying offer.

  • Vancouver re-signed centre Tyler Bouck to a $450,000, one-year contract.

  • Anaheim re-signed scrappy Mike Leclerc and Joe DiPenta to one-year contracts.

  • Defenceman Brad Lukowich, who earned a Stanley Cup ring with Tampa Bay, agreed to a two-year deal with the New York Islanders.

  • Chicago re-signed centre Tyler Arnason, a 22-goal scorer in the last NHL season, to a one-year contract.

  • Dallas announced that centre Niko Kapanen ($450,000 US) and forward Steve Ott have accepted one-year qualifying offers.

  • Phoenix signed defenceman Derek Morris to a one-year contract.

  • San Jose agreed to terms with defenceman Kyle McLaren on a three-year contract extension and re-signed forward Niko Dimitrakos to a two-year contract.

  • Florida announced that centre Stephen Weiss and left-winger Kristian Huselius have accepted qualifying offers.

  • Atlanta re-signed Finnish goalie Pasi Nurminen, defencemen Andy Sutton and Tomas Kloucek and forwards Brad Larsen and Francis Lessard.

  • Washington re-signed forward Jared Aulin.

    with files from Canadian Press

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