Sami Kapanen has ended his association with the Flyers, announcing yesterday that he will return to Finland and join a team that he co-owns.

The right wing told Finnish newspaper Savon Sanomat: "It's a decision I was thinking about for a while and together with the Philadelphia Flyers, we took the decision to terminate the contract."

Contacted early last evening, a Flyers spokesman said general manager Paul Holmgren and coach John Stevens were unaware of Kapanen's decision. Holmgren said he would withhold comment until today after he had a chance to talk to Kapanen.

Kapanen, 34, had 1 year left on his contract with the Flyers, who will retain his NHL rights. They acquired him in February 2003 from Carolina in a multiplayer trade. His best season here was 2005-06, when he scored 12 goals and 22 assists in 58 games. This past season he scored eight points in 74 games and had two goals in the playoffs.

In 12 NHL seasons with the Flyers, Hurricanes and Hartford Whalers, Kapanen played 918 games.

His offensive bottom line: 202 goals and 291 assists, counting the playoffs.

He owns 50.5 percent of the shares of KalPa Kuopio, the team he's returning to.

His now former Flyers teammate, Kimmo Timonen, owns 8 percent of the shares, according to the Savon Sanomat. Kapanen began his career in 1989 with KalPa and, with Timonen, also played on the team during the NHL lockout in 2004-05. *