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September 23, 2004 - Primeau finds willing skate partners at Penn

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Primeau finds willing skate partners at Penn
Story Image 1
[Carin Bloom/The Daily Pennsylvanian]
Philadelphia Flyers co-captain Keith Primeau looks on at Penn's Class of 1923 Rink, where he participated in a men's club hockey practice last night.
Flyers player, locked out by NHL owners, takes opportunity to teach Penn men's club hockey
By ilario huober
September 23, 2004

He was a man among boys. If one looked onto the ice, into the sea of skaters, it was not difficult to spot the one who was unlike all the others. You couldn't miss him.

The Penn men's club hockey team had practice last night at the Class of 1923 Ice Rink, but this was no ordinary practice. Among them was center and co-captain of the Philadelphia Flyers, Keith Primeau. Towering above his collegiate counterparts at 6-foot-5, he skated, passed, shot and did conditioning with the rest of them.

"I know [Penn] coach Dave Berger," Primeau said when asked what brought him to Penn. His son had played under Berger on a youth travel team last year.

Primeau appeared to be enjoying his time on the ice more than what could be expected of a seasoned NHL veteran playing with a group of club athletes. While the Penn students struggled at times to get control of the puck and put it on target, Primeau gracefully slid shots by the goalkeeper into almost every imaginable exposed piece of net.

To be fair, however, the amateurs got theirs, too. In one particularly physical drill, Primeau had the puck on the boards and was attempting to remove it. He no doubt would have, had it not been for the Penn skater who slid in and knocked him to the ice. There was nothing graceful about the way he fell.

The players were glad to have him, and he was glad to be there. Beneath the surface, though, were the questions one could not help but ask.

Where were the rest of the Philadelphia Flyers? Why was Primeau dogging it out with a group of college hockey players? Why wasn't he preparing with his teammates for the upcoming NHL season, which would begin in October?

The answer to these questions is, interestingly enough, another question. What season?

[Carin Bloom/The Daily Pennsylvanian]
Keith Primeau, a player with the Philadelphia Flyers, skated with the Penn men's club hockey team last night at its practice.
Barring a miracle, NHL arenas will be empty this season. As of Sept. 15, the league has officially locked its players due to their inability to compromise with owners on a new collective bargaining agreement.

League officials complain that the players' salaries are exorbitantly high, and that the NHL is losing money as a result. The players, fearing a salary cap, refuse to budge.

"With the obvious NHL lockout, I had some time on my hands," Primeau said after practice. Coach Berger "invited me to practice, and I appreciate it."

With many of his NHL colleagues signing with European teams for the year, Primeau is left to make plans of his own.

"I, personally, am at a different stage in my career. I'll be 33 this fall. I'm comfortable with my game, where I'm at. I've got a lot of young children at home looking forward to having dad around a little bit more."

Asked about the effect that the lockout would have on fans, he conceded, "It's not healthy; nobody wins in this situation, especially the fans. We, as players, are very leery of the type of backlash that this kind of situation will have."

With respect to negotiations, however, Primeau's attitude is clear. "We're resolute in our stance," he said.

Judging by the bleak outlook for professional hockey this year, it is safe to say that the Penn club hockey team can expect to see Primeau back very shortly.