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Lindros Looking To Return

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
July 6, 2006


TORONTO (CP) -- The Big E wants to return to the Toronto Maple Leafs and is waiting for the NHL club to decide whether the feeling is mutual.

Veteran centre Eric Lindros, an unrestricted free agent, says he spoke with Leafs GM John Ferguson on Tuesday night about possibly returning.

The Big E would love to be playing for the Leafs in 2006-07.
(Getty Images/NHLI)

"We'll see how much (salary cap) space he's got and what he wants to do and who he wants to sign,'' Lindros said. "We'll see where it goes.

"Hopefully we'll figure something out,'' Lindros added. "But I don't know what's going to happen.''

Lindros said other NHL clubs have showed interest since he became a free agent last Saturday so he doesn't want to wait around all summer while the Leafs make up their mind.

"I've been in touch with John about a time frame and when it's time to move ahead,'' said Lindros, who earned $1.55 million US last season. "So we'll see what happens.''

If the Leafs do re-sign him, Lindros returns to a much different dressing room. Gone are Ed Belfour, Tie Domi and likely Aki Berg, Jason Allison and Alexander Khavanov if the Leafs decide not to re-sign the unrestricted free agents.

The team has been busy in recent days, acquiring blue-liners Pavel Kubina and Hal Gill as well as starting goalie Andrew Raycroft.

"We got two big defencemen, that really helps us, and now it comes down to the forwards and what John wants to do up there,'' said Lindros. "But the team looks really good from the goaltender up to the defence, there's some spots up front that need to be addressed and I'm sure John will do that.''

Lindros was speaking to reporters after taking part in Nike Bauer's off-ice training event at Rogers Centre, where several hundred aspiring young players took tips from Lindros as well as Leafs forwards Chad Kilger and Alexei Ponikarovsky, Ottawa Senators forward Chris Kelly and Matt Nichol, the Leafs' strength and conditioning coach.

Lindros got the loudest cheers from the kids on hand and it's clear playing for his hometown team remains the perfect fit for him.

"It's a wonderful place to play in,'' said the 33-year-old former Hart Trophy winner. "I got out of the gates pretty well last year but I didn't get to play that much last season and I'd like to come back and have a really strong season.''

In fact, he was one of Toronto's better players early last season, but was sidelined by a serious wrist injury that ended up wiping out his year, a brief comeback late in the regular season abruptly ended after completely tearing the ligament in his wrist.

"I feel strong and healthy, my wrist will be 100 per cent, certainly by training camp,'' said Lindros, who had 11 goals and 11 assists in 33 games last season, his first in Toronto.

"It's a time issue, really,'' he said in explaining his rehab. "A ligament takes time to heal, but within that you're working on flexibility, you're working on wrist strength, your finger strength, everything that comes together with shooting a puck.

"I skated today for the first time in a while.''

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