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October 15, 2004 - Flyers: Players are spread far, wide amid lockout

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Flyers: Players are spread far, wide amid lockout
Their coach is teaching hockey on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Their union is steadfastly declaring there will be no collective bargaining agreement negotiations until the owners change their minds on a "salary cap." Their wives want them to get out of the house.

But there's not much for the Flyers players to do while they wait for the NHL owners to unlock the doors and welcome them back to their jobs.

So in the interim they wait, and try to find something to entertain themselves.

"I'm running from soccer field to soccer field to dance lessons to piano lessons every day," said captain Keith Primeau. "I told my wife that our day doesn't begin until 3:30 in the afternoon."

Sami Kapanen is going through a similar situation at his house.

"I like to be home and play with the kids every day," said Kapanen at a recent informal practice at the Medford Ice Rink. "But there's no question that I want to go back to playing hockey again as soon as possible."

However, the next time Kapanen plays organized hockey it may be back in his home country of Finland where he is part owner of a team.

Kapanen has said he won't go to Finland until he is told that there will be no NHL season, which suggests a hint of optimism, or at the least hope, that a season will occur. But Primeau isn't confident at all.

"It's been eerily quiet and that's not healthy," Primeau said. "Back in 1994 I had a sense that we were working toward a resolution and that there would be a season eventually. That's hardly the case this time."

Knowing that he is going to start missing biweekly paychecks today, Primeau has put a lot of effort into building his business - 55 Hockey Products.

A venture he started 18 months ago in Canada, Primeau has expanded to Minnesota and now is branching his business out locally.

His latest line of equipment is known as "Fury," which Primeau describes as a unique brand.

"When I was a kid I was always picky about the stick I used or the equipment I wore," said Primeau. "About five years ago I started thinking about creating my own equipment line that would be different than the more popular brands."

Primeau said he wants his equipment to feel like it's been worn for three or four weeks when it comes out of the bag.

"The good thing is I get to test every piece of equipment out before it is marketed," he said. "I'll go through eight or 10 pairs of gloves a year to find the best ones."

Primeau said the lockout has afforded him the opportunity to go on some business trips to promote the product himself to retailers and prospective purchasers alike.

He's not the only person remaining proactive during a trying time.

Coach Ken Hitchcock checked in from a training camp in the Central Hockey League in Corpus Christi, Texas where he is working with the Corpus Christi Rayz and New Mexico Scorpions.

"We're doing many of the same drills we would do in Philadelphia," Hitchcock said. "I'm having a great time. I want to be on the ice every week with various teams to do what I like to do - teach the game of hockey."

Hitchcock will continue his coaching trek in the weeks ahead, helping out at Princeton University and also with some junior hockey teams.

"I'm keeping myself all booked up," Hitchcock said.

Where are they

Mattias Timander, D: Will play a full season for MoDo of the Swedish Elite League with Colorado's Peter Forsberg.

Kim Johnsson, D: Playing in the Swiss League for Ambripiotta.

Patrick Sharp, C: Being leaned on to be one of the top offensive players on the Phantoms.

John LeClair, LW: Skating with a small group of current and former Flyers twice a week in Medford, N.J.

Tony Amonte, RW: Returned to his South Jersey home after the World Cup of Hockey and is training on his own.

Simon Gagne, LW: Playing in La Caravane McDonald's, a 4-on-4 exhibition league that is touring Quebec.

Claude Lapointe, C: Still on suspension by the NHL for violation of its substance abuse policy.

Branko Radivojevic, RW: Playing for Vsetin in the Czech League.

Radovan Somik, RW: Playing on the same line as Radivojevic on the Vsetin team.

Mike Knuble, RW: New Flyer playing for Linkoping of the Swedish Elite League.

Sami Kapanen. RW: Working out with small group of teammates in Medford.

Keith Primeau, C: Expanding his sporting equipment business and organizer of the informal practice in Medford.

Michal Handzus, C: Recovering from a torn bicep muscle that he suffered during the World Cup.

Turner Stevenson, RW: Newest flyer returned to his home in Washington and is training on his own.

Marcus Ragnarsson, D: Joined the Medford practice group this week.

Todd Fedoruk, LW: Another informal practice member.

Dennis Seidenberg, D: After playing in the World Cup for Germany, now one of the top defenseman on the Phantoms.

Eric Desjardins, D: Returned to his native Quebec so his son could go to a French-speaking school.

Sean Burke, G: Recovering from offseason hip surgery, not committed to play during the lockout.

Robert Esche, G: In the process of putting together a charity hockey tournament in hometown of Whitesboro, N.Y.

Joni Pitkanen, D: The other top defenseman for the Phantoms.

Danny Markov, D: Unknown, but is not listed as active in any organized hockey league.

Donald Brashear, LW: Playing in the Quebec Major Senior Hockey League, a league that has enough planned fighting that Vince McMahon should be commissioner.

Jeremy Roenick, C: Recovering from the post-concussion symptoms he allegedly suffered in last season's Eastern Conference finals.

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