MONTREAL -- In a stunning turn of events, the Eric Lindros saga entered a new world yesterday.
The Quebec Nordiques, who were unable to trade Lindros anywhere for the last year, apparently made deals with two teams in the morning before the NHL's entry draft.
Philadelphia's entourage of front office staff at the Forum openly celebrated the apparent acquisition of Lindros. The Flyers even called the 19-year-old Lindros at his relatives' home in Northern Ontario to find out whether he was willing to play in Philadelphia.
Lindros, who said that he would never play for the Nordiques even before Quebec drafted him a year ago, told the Flyers yes.
Then the phone rang at the Flyers draft table. The Nordiques said the deal was off, and Lindros was headed to the New York Rangers.
Immediately, the Flyers filed a protest with the NHL. And hours later, the league issued a statement, saying the Flyers, the Rangers and the Nordiques have agreed to a hearing before an independent arbitrator. The hearing was scheduled for this morning.
Flyers' owner Jay Snider could barely contain his anger.
"Quebec is impossible to deal with," he said. "They still don't know how to deal with people. I hope [general manager] Russ [Farwell] will do what he feels is good for the club, but the way they act, it doesn't make you like them very much."
Rangers president and general manager Neil Smith declined to talk about the legal issues.
Lindros, who played last February in the Olympic Winter Games for Canada, is projected as an impact player on the level of Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux.
Philadelphia's offer was reported to be a package of right wing Mike Ricci, defenseman Steve Duchesne, center Rod Brind'Amour, goaltender Ron Hextall, last year's No. 1 draft choice Peter Forsberg, draft picks and $15 million.
Smith was thought to be offering goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck, defenseman James Patrick, right winger Tony Amonte, center Doug Weight, Alexi Kovalev and Sergei Nemchinov and $20 million.