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June 14, 2004 - Primeau signs four-year deal with Flyers
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Primeau signs four-year deal with Flyers

Associated Press

Flyers captain Keith Primeau signed a four-year, $17 million contract Monday, 10 days before he was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. The 32-year-old Primeau was Philadelphia's leading scorer in the playoffs with nine goals and 16 points in 18 games.

With hockey's labor future unclear, Primeau and Flyers general manager Bob Clarke said they wanted to get the deal done.

"For our organization, Keith is the most important player on our club," Clarke said during a conference call. "He's our leader. Before we could go forward with other signings, we felt we had to get Keith signed."

Primeau will earn $4.5 million in 2004-05 and 2005-06 and $4.0 million each of the last two years. He just completed a contract that was paying him $5 million a year.

"Going out on the market wasn't really an option for me because this is where I wanted to be," Primeau said. "Would the numbers have been different (with another team)? I can't say now because I'm signed. I'm pleased with the contract that's in place."

The Flyers have other unrestricted free agents they want to sign before July 1, including defenseman Vladimir Malakhov and center Alexei Zhamnov. Clarke said he won't attempt to sign Mark Recchi until there is a collective bargaining agreement in place. Recchi, 36, will become unrestricted on July 1.

The general manager is confident he can sign such restricted free agents as Simon Gagne, Michal Handzus and Kim Johnsson by the end of the summer.