PHILADELPHIA -- After five days of contentious debate about his future, Eric Lindros, the only player ever traded by the same team at the same time to two different clubs in the NHL, finally has one team.
It's the Philadelphia Flyers.
Flyers president Jay Snider and general manager Russ Farwell completed the biggest trade in NHL history when an arbitrator ruled yesterday that they -- and not the New York Rangers -- had acquired the rights to Lindros, 19, who never has played a minute in the league but is expected to become its next superstar.
The Flyers sent the Nordiques five players -- centers Mike Ricci and Peter Forsberg; defensemen Steve Duchesne and Kerry Huffman; and goalie Ron Hextall -- plus their No. 1 pick in the 1993 draft; future considerations; and $15 million.
To reach his decision, arbitrator Larry Bertuzzi interviewed 11 witnesses and took 400 pages of testimony during five long days of closed-door hearings in Montreal.
In the end, Bertuzzi, a Toronto lawyer, decided that Snider and Marcel Aubut, president of the Quebec Nordiques, had agreed to a trade about 10:30 a.m. on June 20 in Montreal.
In doing so, Bertuzzi ended 11 days of miserable uncertainty for the Flyers by disallowing Quebec's contention that a trade it made later on June 20 with the Rangers should have been allowed to stand.
Rangers general manager Neil Smith issued this statement: "The New York Rangers are naturally disappointed by the arbitrator's decision. However, we have an exciting, young, winning team and will continue to pursue every opportunity to make it even better."
All that is left now for the Flyers is to sign Lindros to a contract, and Snider said he hoped to have that wrapped up by the weekend.
Lindros was the first player drafted last year. He was picked by the Nordiques, but, citing financial reasons and saying he didn't want to play in French-speaking Quebec, he refused to sign with them.
"Philadelphia has a great, young, up-and-coming team, and it will be a lot of fun to be part of it," said Lindros, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound center.
"I think it's great that he's coming to our division," Washington Capitals coach Terry Murray said. "The fans here in Washington are going to see what is built up to be a tremendous player that they can see three or four times a year."
The Caps were one of the teams to make a bid for Lindros, said Jack Button, Caps director of player personnel. "Obviously we were not successful; obviously, we did not get to the final round that Saturday morning," he said.
Who went where
Players in the Nordiques-Flyers trade, with NHL career stats [regular season only, amateur stats for Eric Lindros (right)]:
. ..... ..... ...GP. .. . G. ... A . . ..Pts
Lindros. ...... 211. .. .184. .. 243. .. 427
. . . . .........GP. ... W-L-T. .. ... GAA
R. Hextall. ... 281. ... 130-110-31. . 3.27
. . .. .. ... .. GP. .. .. G. . . .. ..A. . ...Pts
Steve Duchesne . 460. .. 113. ..... ..235. ... 348
Kerry Huffman. . 203. .... 22. ....... 60. ... 82
Mike Ricci. .....146. .... 41. . .. .. 56. ....97
Peter Forsberg, in Sweden, stats unavailable