Lindros vs. Clarke

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Eric Lindros could probably give you 88 reasons why he doesn't want to make a fuss about the Philadelphia Flyers coming into the Air Canada Centre tonight.

Number 1 on his list likely would be general manager Bob Clarke, a man he was at loggerheads with on more than one occasion. As for the other 87, well, does it really matter?

How about it, Eric? Are you, ah, excited?

"What time is the game again?," Lindros coyly answered before disappearing into the Maple Leafs dressing room yesterday, all the while wearing a wry smirk on his face.

Lindros knows all too well the opening faceoff will take place just after 7:30 p.m. It's all that other guff he could do without.

Like being grilled by the potential media circus on hand today about playing his former Flyers team, the one he was with from 1992 to 2001

Or like being peppered with questions about his public statement in the fall of 2000 in which he aired his desire to suit up for the Maple Leafs.

The Big E's big announcement led to trade talks between Clarke and long-time buddy Pat Quinn, although you couldn't tell they were friends by the time the process ended. When discussions finally disintegrated in February of 2001, Clarke and Quinn embarked in the type of mudslinging and trash talk normally reserved for politicians during question period in the House of Commons.

As the story goes, the Flyers reportedly wanted Tomas Kaberle instead of Danny Markov in a package that was said to include Nik Antropov.

"(Clarke) had a moving target," Quinn said. "You thought you had a deal, then he wanted something else. He planned to turn around and move those guys to a third party anyway."

More than four years and a stint with the Rangers later, Lindros finally is living his dream of wearing blue-and-white. And now, as he goes up against Flyers for the first time as a Leaf, he wants to put those Philly days behind him.

So does Clarke.

"Once Lindros was traded to the Rangers, he no longer was in the Flyers thoughts," Clarke said yesterday.

Try telling that to Flyers coach KenHitchcock and his players, who made the Big E the hot topic of conversation after practice yesterday.

"I thought I saw his career end five years ago in that one game here (in Phily) late in the playoffs,"said Flyers captain Keith Primeau, referring to the famous incident in which Lindros was crushed by Scott Stevens. "But he managed to get back out there, so I give him kudos for that.

"Not only is it four years (since he played here) but it's another new team for him. He's closed that chapter, as have we. He's just a member of the opposition and we have to play him accordingly."

In any event, Hitchcock knows how much of a force Lindros can be.

"He's been excellent," Hitchcock said. "I think he's been the star the first two games."

Deep down inside, you know Lindros would like nothing better than to be a star tonight, too.


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