Mar 31, 2002
The most intriguing story to come out of the NHL the past few days had nothing to do with a playoff spot. Dave Babych, released by the Philadelphia Flyers in March of 1999, is suing Comcast, owners of the Philadelphia Flyers, and Arthur Bartolozzi, the team's doctor, for "improper and fraudulent medical advice, motivated by corporate strategy of pressuring injured players to return to the ice."
Babych blocked a shot with his left foot, breaking a bone on April 8, 1998. Two weeks later, at the start of their playoff run against the Buffalo Sabres, Babych was told by then-coach Roger Nielson to dress for the first game. The next season, Babych played in half of the games before taking another shot to the foot, this time resulting in three additional broken bones. That lead to his release in March, effectively ending his career.
It is Babych's contention that the medical advice, and treatment he received caused permanent damage to his foot, which still leaves him unable to walk a golf course. Babych was also unable to play in Europe after the second incident. The Flyers however are insistent that Babych's foot problems are based on the rigors and wear and tear of playing in the National Hockey League for 19 seasons. In a deposition released by the Philadelphia Enquirer, Babych had a painkiller injected into his foot, and Bartolozzi had insisted that the boot of Babych's foot would act like a cast and that "everything would be fine."
Babych is suing for 2 million dollars in lost income and damages. Comcast would be well advised to make an out of court settlement. Tim McLlwain, lawyer for Babych, has apparently secured the testimony of several former Flyers, the most notable being Eric Lindros to testify against the Philadelphia medical staff.
Lindros has had a long history of battles against the Flyer organization. What will be front and center about Lindros' testimony will be the collapsed lung he suffered in 1999. It wasn't until a teammate found Lindros in a bathtub, gasping for air the morning after the game that trainer John Worley was called. Three hours later, Lindros was admitted to surgery.
Later, the Lindros family found out that the original plan of Worley's and General Manager Bobby Clarke was to fly Lindros to Philadelphia from Nashville. Second opinions allegedly told both the organization, and the Lindros family that Eric would have likely died if he was flown anywhere.
Babych will also point to repeated attempts of Bobby Clarke to bully Lindros, among others by mentioning how quickly other players had come back from their injuries. The Flyer management has come under fire for quite a few things, and it seems unlikely that anything would happen to Bobby Clarke, although he doesn't seem to have many people on his side, apart from owner Ed Snider.
Quite simply, this is another embarrassment of an organization, and a General Manager, that have a less-than-stellar reputation to begin with. Aside from the on-ice product, which is among the best in the NHL, the Flyers need to do something, anything, to let their fans know that their team isn't just being run by two remnants of the glory days.
Personally, I'd really like to see Bobby Clarke fired, odds are that won't happen, but his place in Philadelphia should already be tenuous after the Adam Oates deal, which saw three draft picks, and one of the top two junior goalies not in the NHL become Washington property.
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