Derian Hatcher will not be on the ice when Flyers' training camp opens Saturday.

But that does not mean the Flyers are going to force him into retirement. Instead, Hatcher's name will appear on the roster for the first game of the season and then immediately be moved to the long-term injury list.

The move allows the Flyers to create some breathing room by subtracting his $3.5 million salary from the overall cap total and gives Hatcher time to continue trying to rehab his degenerated right knee.

"We will give him as long as it takes,'' general manager Paul Holmgren said yesterday. "It's not costing us anything and it won't count against the cap, and at some point if he were to make a miraculous recovery, we will use him.

"This gives Derian time and gives us cap flexibility by using him on long-term injury,'' Holmgren said.

The chances of seeing Hatcher back in a Flyers uniform are not good. The 36-year-old defenseman missed 28 games with knee pain and fluid in his right knee and another 10 with a broken right foot. He returned for the playoffs in Game 3 of the Washington series. *

- Ed Moran