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Offer Blocks Lindros Free Agency

The Philadelphia Flyers submitted an $8.5 million qualifying offer to center Eric Lindros on Friday night, preventing him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Lindros, his career in jeopardy because of a series of concussions, has until Aug. 1 to accept the offer.

"Eric Lindros is one of the top players in the game and is an integral part of the Flyers organization," said Bob Clarke, the Flyers' president and general manager. "We are hopeful that he will enjoy a complete recovery and return to play hockey at the high level to which we have become accustomed."

Clarke also made an overture to Lindros personally, noting the feud between the former captain and management.

"On a personal level, I greatly regret the extent to which the relationship between myself and Eric and his family has deteriorated," Clarke said. "I intend to do whatever I can to try to move this relationship onto a better course."

The 27-year-old center has had six concussions in his NHL career, the most recent on a check by New Jersey's Scott Stevens in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on May 26.

James Kelly, a concussion expert who has been treating Lindros said in a report that the injury-plagued star should not play for now, but can do light exercise, play golf and ride a bike.

Lindros has said he doesn't know when he can return to the ice and is considering sitting out up to a full year. He even indicated he might play in Europe where the style of play is less physical.

Lindros has played eight seasons with the Flyers following a mammoth trade with Quebec that included six players, two first-round draft choices and $15 million.

Lindros has made six All-Star teams and won an MVP award in 1995, but the Flyers lost in their only Stanley Cup final with him.

Lindros' time in Philadelphia has been marked by turmoil and controversy, including reports that he once left tickets for reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino.

His relationship with Clarke, his childhood hero, deteriorated to a point this season where the two men didn't speak for months.

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.

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 Eastern Conference finals.

Clarke had an even bigger problem with Lindros' parents.

He accused Carl and Bonnie Lindros of constantly meddlinin the team's affairs. He said Carl has 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.

"We don't want his mom and dad. We've had enough of them," Clarke said.

The relationship between the Lindros family and the Flyers really began to sour after Lindros suffered a collapsed lung on April 1, 1999, in Nashville.

The potentially life-threatening injury was diagnosed the following day, and Lindros and his family had little to no confidence in the team's medical staff after the incident.

Still, Lindros said he wanted to remain with the team.

"I love playing in this city. The fans in this city are spectacular," he said last month in his most recent press conference with the team.

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