Leighton, Walker at Flyers' practice; Brindy to be honored

     RALEIGH, N.C. _ Goalie Michael Leighton and defenseman Matt Walker appear to be recovering ahead of schedule.

    Both returned to the Flyers' practice here on Wednesday for the first time since their respective surgeries.

    Leighton, who had been practicing on his own, had back surgery Oct. 11 to repair a herniated disk. He was expected to miss six to eight weeks. Leighton would not give a timetable for when he can return to action, but called the workout "a step in the right direction" and said his back was "feeling good."

    "It's just a matter of getting stronger and getting my game back," he said.

   He will visit a doctor late next week "and we'll see what he has to say and go from there."

   Walker had right hip surery on Oct. 20 and was projected to miss 10-12 weeks. If he continues his rapid recovery, he could be back a bit sooner.

    The Flyers play at Carolina Thursday.

    When the Flyers play here on Feb. 18, Rod Brind'Amour will have his Carolina jersey retired. Brind'Amour, of course, also starred for the Flyers before becoming captain for the Canes and helping lead them to a Stanley Cup. Peter Laviolette, who is extremely close with Brind'Amour, coached that Carolina team..

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