Originally created 10/06/01

Lindros returns to after 17-month layoff

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Eric Lindros was heralded as the NHL's next dominant player when the old Quebec Nordiques made him the top pick in the 1991 draft.

Lindros did win the 1995 MVP award and guided the Philadelphia Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals two years later. He also was away from the NHL for more than 16 months after the last of six concussions.

The center was to resume his career Friday night, when his new team, the New York Rangers, played the Carolina Hurricanes in the season opener for both.

"It's taken some time, but I'm happy to be here and I'm looking forward to a good season," Lindros said Friday after the Rangers' morning skate. "I feel confident, I feel good. I just want to get in the groove and keep things going."

Lindros has not played since May 26, 2000, when a check by New Jersey's Scott Stevens in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals gave him his sixth concussion. Lindros was cleared by doctors to play six months later, but a rift with Flyers general manager Bob Clarke kept him off the ice all of last season.

Lindros rejected an $8.5 million qualifying offer from the Flyers last season, then refused to be traded to any team but his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. He later softened his stance, but still wasn't dealt by the trade deadline in March.

The impasse ended in August, when the Rangers got the 28-year-old Lindros for three players and a third-round draft pick.

"I realized at times how much I loved it (hockey) and what you miss," said Lindros, who sat out the 1991-92 season when he refused to play for Quebec. "I was exposed to a lot more things outside of hockey in that time and I'll cherish those memories as well, but certainly being back out on the ice is where I want to be and feel at home."

Lindros, who kept in shape by skating four to five times a week with friends in Toronto, said he is healthy and eager to start playing again.

"It's coming. Every day I've felt a lot stronger on the ice," he said. "All through camp I thought my skating was pretty good and my puckhandling is starting to pick up a little. It's starting to pull together now."


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