Have you noticed a difference in the spelling of Nikolay Zherdev's name?

Last week, Zherdev requested a change in spelling of his first name. As it turns out, no one was spelling it wrong by using "Nikolai" instead of "Nikolay," as he requested. Nikolai is how it had been spelled since he entered the NHL in 2003.

Zherdev arrived in Philadelphia from Russia on Sept. 14, after a delay in getting a work visa. On his Ukrainian passport, Zherdev's name is spelled "Nikolay."

That presented a problem when Zherdev wanted to cash his first paycheck of the season and the names on his check and passport didn't match.

Rather than him flying back to Ukraine to have the problem solved, the Flyers simply changed the spelling of his first name to match his passport and updated the league directory.

Check cashed. Problem solved.

Betts 'kneeds' a break

Forward Blair Betts did not practice yesterday, leaving some doubt as to whether he will be in the lineup tomorrow night for the season opener.

Betts, 30, left Sunday's preseason finale as a pure "precaution," according to general manager Paul Holmgren. Instead, Betts is suffering from a knee injury that plagued him during the playoffs last season - not his shoulder, which was repaired in an offseason surgery.

"I don't think there was any expectation that I'd be back this early with my shoulder," Betts said. "The knee was kind of an unfortunate situation. This summer, I wasn't able to skate because of my shoulder, so I didn't know my knee would still be giving me a little bit of grief.

"It's just something that's kind of lingering right now. It's something that we're going to have to manage, hopefully for just the early part of the season."

Betts, the Flyers' top penalty-killing forward, said he will be on the ice today for practice and expects to play tomorrow night against the Penguins.

Slap shots

Johan Backlund and David Laliberte cleared waivers yesterday on their way to the AHL and Adirondack . . . The Flyers must decide whether to place Ian Laperriere (postconcussion syndrome) and Michael Leighton (bulging disk) on Long Term Injured Reserve by today's 3 p.m. roster deadline. That would relieve the Flyers of their roster spot and their salary-cap hit. If not, the Flyers would need to waive one or two players to reach the 23-man limit . . . Dan Carcillo skated with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter yesterday, and Nik Zherdev skated with Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk. *