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Clarke speaks candidly about Lindros; says he's 'really proud' of him

TORONTO _ The very public feud between Bob Clarke and Eric Lindros, which reached a boiling point near the end of Lindros' Flyers career in 2001, is over.

Feud? What feud?

Clarke, who was the Flyers general manager during those days, is on the Hall of Fame selection committee and he pushed for Lindros to get into the Hall. The former Flyers center was one of four men inducted (see story) Monday in Toronto.

"He was the best player in the game for quite a few years," Clarke said before Monday's festivities. "There still hasn't been another player like him, with that size, skating ability, and skill. He brought some nastiness. We all dream about having a player like that, and the Flyers are lucky they had him for a while."

Clarke and Lindros talked last month at the Wells Fargo Center, where several former players came back as part of a tribute to the franchise's 50th anniversary.

"A nice conversation," Clarke recalled. "I always got along pretty good with Eric. My problem was more with his mom and dad. He seemed to me to be very at peace now. He's married and has three kids and he seems to be really happy."

The two patched up their differences at the Winter Classic alumni game at Citizens Bank Park in 2011. They aren't on speed dial, but they are cordial.

Lindros said he doesn't want to look back, just ahead.

"There's no point in being negative," he said. "We disagreed about some things. It's over. Let's move forward. Let's be better."

Lindros was asked if a "dark cloud" had been lifted at the 2011 alumni game.

"It wasn't a dark cloud," he said. "We had a difference of opinion and we're strong-minded individuals, eh?"

On Monday, Clarke sounded sympathetic to Lindros' injuries with the Flyers, including several concussions and a collapsed lung.

"After the (Scott) Stevens hit, I don't know that he ever quite recovered," Clarke said of the crushing head blow delivered to Lindros in the 2000 playoffs.  "Controversies and the injuries and everything must have gotten hard on him. It was a tough way to have to go out."

Clarke said he had "no problem" when Lindros got a second opinion after a concussion, but that it was unfair that his parents criticized the Flyers' medical staff. He said he hasn't talked to Lindros' parents in a while.

"No, not at all," he said. "I got along good with his dad. Whenever we sat down and talked, I liked his dad. But I didn't spend much time with his mother."

At the center of the Clarke-Lindros feud was Clarke's belief that the center's parents interfered too much on behalf of their son.

On Monday, Clarke, said he now has a "better understanding" of the situation _ and that Eric's father, Carl, was "looking out for him."

In a roundabout way, Lindros touched on the subject briefly during his heartfelt, excellent acceptance speech Monday.

He thanked many people, "especially my mom Bonnie and my dad Carl, who were often under the glare of the media," Lindros said. "Every kid should be so lucky to have parents who aren't afraid to tell them all of their options. My parents offered me the guidance and direction they thought was best for me, and they allowed me to make my own decisions. They never wavered."

Clarke recalled Lindros' early days with the Flyers, who acquired him in a blockbuster trade with Quebec in 1992.

"When he first came to Philly before hockey started (that season), his dad and him came over to my house for dinner," Clarke said. "His dad and I were having a beer and I look out and he's playing street hockey with my 10-year-old son, (Lucas). That was special. Special for my kid, anyway. He'll never forget that."

Added Clarke about Lindros' eight years in Philadelphia: "...Those of us who spent most of our life in the Flyers' organization are really proud of Eric."

Breakaways. In his Hall-of-Fame speech, Lindros said it was a "privilege" to play in the NHL and that he was humbled to be selected.....Former Flyer Mark Recchi deserves to be in the Hall. He is 12th in NHL history  with 1,533 points and was the third player in history to win Stanley Cups with three different teams....In addition to Clarke, Hall of Famer Bill Barber, GM Ron Hextall, and assistant GMs Barry Hanrahan and Chris Pryor attended for the Flyers.....Former Flyers president Peter Luukko and ex-Flyers John LeClair, Mikael Renberg and Chris Pronger also attended. Pronger on defending Lindros: "I played against him in junior and then obviously through his whole career. He was a force. You definitely prepared and knew what you were in for and knew it was going to be a long night." Pronger said Lindros had power and skill and "was mean....which I like. Not necessarily on me, but you like watching guys that can play the game the way he did."