Skip to main content

The war between superstar Eric Lindros and the Philadelphia Flyers escalated yesterday when general manager Bob Clarke took the captaincy away from Lindros and gave it to defenceman Eric Desjardins.

Clarke denied the move was in retaliation for Lindros's criticism of the Flyers' medical staff over the way he was treated for his latest concussion. The move, however, came 24 hours after Clarke said he would not appoint a temporary captain while Lindros recuperates.

There is a chance Lindros will play a few more games, if the team is still in the National Hockey League playoffs when he recovers. But his long-term future with the team seems gone.

Carl Lindros, Eric's father and agent, said shortly before yesterday's announcement that he did not want to make any public comment on the relationship between the club and his son.

Neither he nor Eric could be reached for comment after the announcement.

Despite Clarke's denial that his move was in retaliation for Lindros questioning the medical treatment he received after being injured on March 4, his comments indicated otherwise.

"It's fair to say when a guy like Lindros comes out and criticizes the doctors and trainers, he's thinking of himself and not the team," Clarke said. "We're trying to do what's right for the team."

Clarke met with veteran Flyers Mark Recchi, John LeClair and Desjardins, along with interim head coach Craig Ramsay, yesterday morning. The GM said the players, all of whom had been alternate captains, suggested appointing a captain.

"A few of the players indicated they felt the team needed a captain, so Ramsay and I met with them," Clarke said. "As a group, we felt the team would be better off with a captain."

Lindros will be out of the lineup for six weeks with a Grade II concussion as a result of a hit from Boston Bruins defenceman Hal Gill. Lindros vomited in the dressing room after the hit, which is regarded as a symptom of a serious head injury, but played in the Flyers' next four games.

The Flyers initially said the concussion was a less severe Grade I injury and that the headaches Lindros was experiencing were migraines. But when he was examined by head injury specialist Dr. James Kelly one week ago, Lindros was diagnosed with a Grade II concussion and Kelly said this should have been apparent to the Flyers medical staff.

While Lindros admitted he was not completely honest about his symptoms with the team's trainer and doctors, it was because he didn't want to be seen as letting the team down. He hoped that doctors would see how serious the injury was and order him to stop playing, he said.

Carl Lindros said on the weekend that there are no plans to take legal action against the Flyers or their medical staff. But it isn't known if that could change in light of the Flyers' move yesterday. Lindros will become a restricted free agent on July 1, and Clarke said he will make the required qualifying offer of a 10-per-cent raise on Lindros's current $8.5-million (U.S.) salary to retain his rights.

It is expected that Clarke will either attempt to trade the 27-year-old superstar or decline to match a contract offer from another club and take the five first-round draft picks required as compensation under the collective agreement.

Lindros's teammates preferred to talk about Desjardins' promotion rather than the dispute between the club and Lindros.

"We felt we needed a change," said Desjardins, who has been a Flyer since 1995 and was recommended for the post by Recchi and LeClair in yesterday's meeting. "It's a great opportunity for me. I think I'll be up to it." LeClair said Desjardins is "well-respected in this room and he's a leader of the guys we have in here right now."