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July 23, 2005 - Flyers buy out contracts of LeClair, Amonte

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Flyers buy out contracts of LeClair, Amonte
The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Flyers have bought out the contracts of forwards John LeClair and Tony Amonte.

The 36-year-old LeClair spent 10 years with the Flyers, and was a member of the famed "Legion of Doom" line with Eric Lindros and Mikael Renberg in the mid-1990s.

LeClair, who entered the lockout due $9 million this season in the final year of a five-year contract, was to make $6.84 million after the leaguewide 24 percent pay cut.

"Obviously I'm disappointed," LeClair said. "But it was something I was prepared for. I knew it was a very realistic possibility for over a year now. My disappointment comes from knowing my years with the Flyers are over."

Amonte, who started the lockout at about $5.82 million, was due $4.26 million. In 14 seasons with New York, Chicago, Phoenix and Philadelphia, Amonte tallied 392 goals and 436 assists in the regular season; he had 20 goals and 31 assists in 86 playoff games.

By buying out LeClair, the Flyers get 66 percent of the $6.84 million, or $4.51 million, taken off their payroll (against the salary cap) as they try to get down to the $39 million payroll mandated by the new collective bargaining agreement for the 2005-06 season.

The Flyers will reduce their payroll by $2.96 million with the Amonte buyout.

The buyouts will give the Flyers room to make qualifying offers to restricted free agents and begin negotiations with unsigned rookies.

LeClair tallied 382 goals and 379 assists overall in the regular season in his career with the Flyers and the Montreal Canadiens; he had 42 goals and 47 assists in the playoffs.

Despite having back surgery in May, LeClair plans to continue his NHL career.

"Right now I plan to sit back, see what comes about, and see how my health is," he said. "I just have to wait and see how it plays out."

Flyers captain Keith Primeau said LeClair will be missed but that everyone understands this sort of move will be common in the new hockey economic landscape.

"When you talk about Johnny, you talk about a name synonymous with the Flyers," Primeau said. "The only reason John LeClair doesn't return as a Philadelphia Flyer is because of the new economics. A guy like Tony Amonte gets caught in the crossfire as well because of the substantial dollars he earns."

Flyers general manager Bob Clarke called both players Saturday morning to deliver the news and said it was "not the best way to start off a day."

Coach Ken Hitchcock said both LeClair and Amonte epitomized class while with the Flyers.

"I understand the economics of the new game but it doesn't make it any easier for a coach," Hitchcock said. "They've been tremendous ambassadors not only for our team but the league."