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December 28, 2004 - Primeau shows off line

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Philadelphia Flyers center Keith Primeau, left, signs autograph for Jon Horncock, 18, of Mechanicsburg Monday afternoon at Twin Ponds West. (Jason Minick/The Sentinel)

Primeau shows off line

By Brenda Crowell, December 28, 2004

]A stampede of small boys dressed in hockey equipment and fan gear charged to open the doors at Twin Ponds West Monday afternoon.


Beaming, they held the doors wide as Philadelphia Flyers captain Keith Primeau maneuvered his 6-foot-5 frame and a large Flyers duffel bag through the throng, across the lobby and into the Hockey Inc. pro shop, where more fans and the media awaited.

"I think it's an honor to meet the captain of the Flyers," said Hollis Burrell, 10, of Mechanicsburg.

Though Primeau spent most of his time signing autographs, posing for photos and answering questions about the NHL lockout, the main purpose of his visit to Hockey Inc. was to gain exposure for Fury, his new line of hockey equipment.

"I was looking at the numbers from USA Hockey just last week. In Pennsylvania, there are over 16,000 kids playing minor hockey," Primeau said. "Obviously for me the best exposure is to be playing. But in the absence of playing NHL hockey, the best thing for me is to go out and create brand exposure by going to the source and going to the rinks, seeing the kids and giving them product knowledge."

Bob Wilkie was looking for a little exposure of his own, having recently taken over manager duties for Hockey Inc. at both Twin Ponds locations. Primeau and his new equipment line were an obvious choice.

"Keith and I used to play together in Adirondack, on the Detroit Red Wings farm team," Wilkie said.

The reunion of the teammates could benefit both in the long run. Jared Askey, 12, who plays for Mechanicsburg's junior high team, came to Twin Ponds to meet Primeau. While he was there, he checked out the Fury line and liked what he saw.

"It's pretty cool," Askey said of the goalie sticks he examined. "They're more expensive, but better quality (than other sticks)." Besides sticks, the line includes gloves, pants and bags. Primeau's involvement sets Fury apart from other brands.

"Keith's been playing his entire life and he has a lot of great ideas about how to make equipment. A lot of guys involved with the company are ex-hockey players as well," Wilkie said. "So you're getting not so much the corporate structure like a lot of the other companies where they're just rattling stuff out. Now you've got a guy who's playing the game, along with other guys who are playing the game, designing, testing and perfecting their products."

Primeau takes that involvement seriously, lending not only his name but his thoughts to Fury.

"I'm involved in the development of all the products," Primeau said. "Part of the reason I started the company is that I was very fickle growing up and I still remain fickle, so I wanted products that were comfortable, protective and affordable.

"A perfect example would be the gloves. I go through as many as 10 pairs of gloves during the season, and the break-in time is about three or four weeks. I wanted to design something that when you took it out of the bag, it felt like you had worn it for two months."

Another hot product is a one-piece composite stick, which is lighter and offers better puckhandling than wood.

"They're pretty cool," said Nick Schwartz, 13, of Boiling Springs and Mechanicsburg, who was being measured for new goalie equipment. "When I skate out sometimes I like to use Easton stuff. I compared the Fury sticks to the Easton Synergys, and they were pretty similar."

The Fury line is just part of the revamping of Hockey Inc. since Wilkie and Tim Tookie, both of whom are former Hershey Bears, took the reins.

"We changed the layout a little bit, brought in new products, and we're trying to do a little better with the customer service," Wilkie said. "A lot of people go to the Internet to see if they can find stuff cheaper, but if they have a problem with something or it doesn't fit quite right, there's really nobody they can talk to.

"If they can come in, talk to somebody and get fitted, that'll help them a little bit. We have catalogs of every hockey distributor. We'll get anything anybody's looking for."

On the Net:

Twin Ponds pro shops:

Fury hockey equipment: