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Lindros has happy return to Philadelphia; Ex-Flyer is cheered during alumni game

PHILADELPHIA -- Eric Lindros stepped out of the dugout to a roar he hadn't heard in Philadelphia in almost 12 years.

Big E had his standing O.

Lindros pointed his stick toward nearly 49,000 fans and took his long-overdue walk toward the infield ice to join his Flyers teammates. One of the great players in a franchise loaded with them was back in the orange and black.

With a packed Philadelphia crowd standing and going wild in appreciation, Lindros made a triumphant return to the city in a Philadelphia Flyers jersey, a bitter parting more than a decade ago forgotten from the moment No. 88 hit the ice for warm-ups.

The red reserved for the Phillies at Citizens Bank park gave way to 40,000 fans in Flyers orange -- so many who paid just to see Lindros play in the alumni showcase, a prelude to Monday's Winter Classic between the Flyers and New York Rangers.

Lindros assisted on the first goal of the game, connecting with former Legion of Doom linemate John LeClair, to help the former Flyers beat the old-time Rangers, 3-1, Saturday.

"It really felt special here," Lindros said. "It's nice to be back and heading out to restaurants and hearing the well wishes around town. I'm happy to be here and catch up with some people I haven't seen in a while."

Lindros' last appearance for the Flyers was in May 2000, when he was laid out by New Jersey's Scott Stevens in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference finals.

He would be traded 15 months later to the Rangers because of a nasty falling out with former General Manager Bobby Clarke.

All was forgiven Saturday.

The game served as opening act for a week's worth of games. High school, college and minor league teams will play at Citizens Bank Park and there's an open skate for fans.

Saturday's start time was pushed back two hours to 3 p.m. for more ideal temperatures for the outdoor game.

The NHL expects Monday's game to start at its scheduled 1 p.m. time.

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