PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers have cast off their anti-Soviet past and welcomed 27-year-old winger Andrei Lomakin from Moscow Dynamo.
For general manager Russ Farwell, Lomakin's participation in the Flyers' practice Thursday at the Coliseum in Voorhees Township, N.J., culminated nearly a year of delicate negotiations.
For older members of the organization and many fans, the addition of Lomakin ended a long and sometimes bitter relationship between the Flyers and the Soviets.
It was the Soviet Red Army team that walked off the Spectrum ice in the 1976 Super Series. It was the country's poor human-rights record that angered the family of Ed Snider, the founder of the Flyers. And it was former team captain Bob Clarke who said in the team's 25th anniversary video, "I hated the Russians."
All that is, however, old news.
For years, NHL teams have welcomed players from what used to be the Soviet Union. And both Farwell and Flyers coach Paul Holmgren welcomed Lomakin on Thursday with open arms.
"He's going to help us," Holmgren said. "He's an extremely good skater with good puck skills."
Holmgren said that Lomakin could be ready to play tomorrow in Pittsburgh.
The Flyers drafted Lomakin in the seventh round in June. Farwell had been negotiating with Lomakin's team, Moscow Dynamo, since before last month's Canada Cup, and the paperwork was completed just this week.
Lomakin, a left-winger for most of his career, had the best season of his five-year career with Dynamo last season, scoring 16 goals with 17 assists in 45 games.
He has had extensive international experience. He had two assists in five games with Team USSR in the Canada Cup, and three goals and three assists in the 1991 World Championships. He also had four points in eight games as a member of the 1988 Soviet Olympic team that won the gold medal.
Through his agent, Mark Gandler, Lomakin said that he hoped to add the offense the Flyers have needed for the last few seasons.