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Arbitrator Leans LeClair's Way

John LeClair won the largest arbitration award in NHL history Friday, getting a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers for $7 million.

The previous high for an arbitration award came in 1998 when St. Louis Blues center Pierre Turgeon got $4.65 million.

LeClair was seeking a one-year salary of $9 million. The Flyers countered with an offer of $4.6 million. The $7 million salary represents a 92 percent pay hike from the average of his last contract, a three-year deal.

The one-year contract allows the former 50-goal scorer to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"We respect the arbitrator's decision," Flyers general manager Bob Clarke said. "We will continue our efforts to sign John to a long-term deal. John has requested that talks be suspended when training camp starts. We respect his wishes and will try over the next month to sign him to a long-term contract."

LeClair missed becoming an unrestricted free agent this year by four days, turning 31 on July 5. He has averaged 47 goals a season in the past five years the most of any active player. He had 40 goals and 77 points last season.

Arbitrator Michel Picher heard arguments from both the Flyers and LeClair's representatives Wednesday in Toronto.

LeClair earned $3.969 million last season, his sixth in Philadelphia after being acquired from Montreal in February 1995.

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