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Big E isn't sure about playing future, focused solely on work with NHLPA

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

As in, will he play again next season? "Right now my focus is the 'PA work," Lindros told The Canadian Press on Wednesday. "I'm not really concerned about the rest of it. But the last couple of years have been pretty frustrating in terms of not getting through without being injury-free. ... It's just frustrating."

The 34-year-old centre is an unrestricted free agent. And as he pointed out, the last few seasons have indeed been tough for the Big E, limited to 49 games last season with the Dallas Stars, 33 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2005-06 and 39 games with the New York Rangers in 2003-04.

Much like superstar defenceman Scott Niedermayer of the Anaheim Ducks says he's "leaning" towards retirement, it sounds as though Lindros has the same mindset right now although he wouldn't say for sure.

"I've got an idea of what I'm going to do and I've had that idea ever since the last game of the playoffs," Lindros said. "But right now is about focusing on the 'PA."

Lindros has devoted his entire off-season to helping the union cause. He is on the NHLPA's constitutional review committee - the union is reshaping itself from top to bottom - and he was also among the five players selected to head the search committee for a new executive director along with Chris Chelios of the Detroit Red Wings, Mike Cammalleri of the Los Angeles Kings, Shawn Horcoff of the Edmonton Oilers and Robyn Regehr of the Calgary Flames.

"It's been interesting, it's been a learning experience I don't think any of us have gone through before," Lindros said. "A lot of people are helping us out in terms of great direction and ideas and support. We're making some headway. We're currently looking at search firms."

Once they hire a search firm, it will begin lining up potential candidates that the search committee will interview. They have not set a timetable to name the successor to Ted Saskin, who was fired in May over accusations that he ordered the reading of players' e-mails. A full investigative report on the matter is expected sometime next month from Toronto lawyer Sheila Block.

"We'll give the search firm an outline as to what we think is best, the best qualities that we want in our leader," Lindros said.

Lindros said he began getting more involved over the last year, frustrated by what he was seeing: his union crippled by in-fighting over the acceptance of a salary cap and Saskin's controversial hiring.

"My hat's off to Chelly and Trent Klatt, among others, and what they got started," Lindros said, pointing to the group who rose up against Saskin.

But it's more than that. Lindros feels compelled to help out for another reason as well.

"You just look back at how fortunate you've been and what some of the older players, when I broke in, how they sacrificed the latter stages of their career - certainly the lockout in '94 - to do what was best for our group," said Lindros. "It's time to help out in that same way."

Lindros and the search committee will be front and centre Aug. 29-31 here in Toronto when the NHLPA conducts its annual general membership player meeting. He's hoping for a good turnout as the union continues the process of rebuilding itself.

"The more the merrier," said Lindros. "Even as a group of 30 reps, it's one thing to be on conference calls but it's another to meet face to face and have an understanding on where everyone sits on different issues. I think it's important that everyone gets together."



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