The Fighting Spirit Of No. 21 Is Being Passed To Dan Kordic The 6-foot-5 Flyer Has Inherited Dave Brown's Jersey Number. And His Role As Chief Enforcer.

Posted: October 10, 1995

Dave Brown is playing out west with the San Jose Sharks this season, but his fighting spirit lives on with the Flyers in Dan Kordic.

A 24-year-old defenseman turned left winger, Kordic has been handed the job of enforcer that Brown filled so well with the Flyers for nearly a decade. With many NHL teams trying to neutralize Eric Lindros by goading the superstar center into fights, the Flyers need players who can step in and fight for Lindros.

Kordic has even been given Brown's old jersey number - 21.

(Unfortunately for the Flyers, Kordic missed all of training camp with muscle problems in both his shins. He had surgery to correct the condition a few weeks ago, but it will be at least three weeks before he's ready to play.)

It's not that Lindros can't fight. He's one of the league's best fighters. But he is too valuable as a scorer and playmaker to have him in the penalty box for more than a few minutes each game.

The Montreal Canadiens tried to knock the Flyers off their game plan on Saturday by having defenseman Stephane Quintal challenge Lindros to fight late in the second period. Of course, the Canadiens were trailing, 6-1, at the time, so the strategy had little effect; the Flyers went on to win, 7-1.

But the idea of having marginal players confront the league's best player ticked off Flyers coach Terry Murray. The Pittsburgh Penguins tried the same thing during the exhibition season, and Murray went ballistic.

"I'm not going to put up with it over the year," Murray said, referring to Saturday's incident.

So far, left winger Shawn Antoski has been the Flyers' avenging fighter. He got into two fights on Saturday before the Lindros fight, but Murray wants another brawler to send a message to the rest of the league.

Murray's message is: Don't mess with Lindros, or we'll mess with your best players.

"A player like Kordic is very important to have on your hockey club," Murray said. "There are going to be liberties taken, or teams are going to try to change the tempo, the flow of the game, by playing physical or going after your good players.

"That's the reason for having a player who is going to perform a very specific role. He's going to have that presence and give your teammates some real good support."

For the time being, Kordic is skating hard at practice. Once he's back in game shape, he will probably spend two weeks with Hershey of the American Hockey League before he suits up for the Flyers.

"I've got to get back in condition and get my foot speed," Kordic said. ''I have to get my tendons and muscles going again. I guess I'll just take it day by day. Every day it's feeling better."

Because the Flyers are deep on defense this season, Murray plans to shift Kordic to left wing, a position he has not played consistently. But the intricacies of the position don't worry Kordic.

"For me, it's going to be simple," Kordic said. "Get the puck in and do a role. I think I can get the hang of that pretty quick."

Hampered by injuries throughout his career - Kordic also missed most of the 1992-93 season because of reconstructive knee surgery - he is eager to make the most of this chance. He knows his ability to fight and intimidate are his main assets, and he's aware that the Flyers lack depth in that department.

"I think there is a chance for me to fill a role there, and I'm looking forward to that," said Kordic, who has had more than 120 penalty minutes in six of his eight seasons. "I always feel I've got a good attitude. I think my time will come as long as I work at it and keep my head up."

If he does that, a lot of other players around the NHL may be ducking.

NOTES. Along with Kordic, center Craig MacTavish (sore left ankle) is on the Flyers' injured list. . . . The Flyers have a good schedule this month. They play just 11 games, including only two sets of back-to-back games. "It's spread out good enough to give you time to make corrections and work out the problem areas," Murray said. The Flyers play 15 games in November. . . . Tickets are available for tomorrow's home opener against Washington at the Spectrum, the team said.

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