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November 9, 2001 - Barber has a little chat with his captain

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Barber has a little chat with his captain
 
By Tim Panaccio INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

TAMPA, Fla. - Flyers coach Bill Barber and team captain Keith Primeau hammered out some issues yesterday at the morning skate.

During the 17-minute session, the volatile Barber and laid-back Primeau stood in front of a Tampa Bay Lightning banner on the side boards of the Ice Palace that read: Bolt Yourself In!

"Don't read anything into that," Barber said later, laughing heartily.

Although neither spoke directly about the criticism Barber has leveled at his players and vice versa this week, both men said the chat was constructive, not destructive.

Primeau said he's trying to make the point to everyone in the dressing room that if they want to accept congratulations for a job well done, they should be prepared to accept blame when the job doesn't get done.

"We all do," Barber said. "It's we, not just one player. We as a group have to improve in some areas, not just a handful of guys. It is a whole group, meaning staff and players. We have to find ways to get better, and they know that."

Barber did most of the talking. He was his usual animated self, gesturing hard with his stick and driving home his points forcefully. Every now and then, Primeau would laugh and get a few words in. Though Barber and the captain talk on a daily basis, Primeau said this was the first time the coach had held him captive for the entire practice.

Primeau said they discussed the sagging power play - the Flyers were 1 for 20 in the six games before last night's - and the team's inability to win face-offs across the board, a point of severe angst for Barber. They agreed that those two areas had been pivotal in consecutive 2-1 losses before last night's game against Tampa Bay. Barber said he reiterated points made last year, too.

"We didn't address any comments of what has transpired over the last couple of days," Primeau said. "It was more about those key areas [of the game] than anything else."

Primeau said Barber never said why he has been so hard on his players of late.

"He didn't have to," Primeau said. "We're all grown men and paid extremely well for what we do, and you have to come prepared to do that. At the same time, guys are ready to receive accolades, and when things are not going well, they have to be able to take some heat."

Barber said nothing should be read into the meeting because he talks to Primeau every day, although Primeau said 17 minutes is the longest they have chatted.

"I said, 'Look, if you're going to grab me for a meeting, at least do it before I put equipment on,' " the captain said, smiling.

Loose pucks

Jeremy Roenick, who has a sprained right shoulder, played last night and said he had minor discomfort. "I wouldn't jeopardize myself," Roenick said. "I like to think the team needs me, and I don't like missing games. They're telling me to stay off, but I don't really want to." Barber said there was no risk of Roenick's aggravating the injury. "I would never expect a player to play, nor would I ask him to play, if there was risk involved," the coach said. . . . Center Tomas Divisek, who scored his first NHL goal last night, has pushed rookie Pavel Brendl to the bench for two consecutive games. "I don't care where I play, so long as I do play," Brendl said Wednesday. "I'm not winning a lot of face-offs. I've won one, pretty much. So I'd rather play wing, but it doesn't matter to me." Brendl sprained his right ankle in the season opener, which he said had slowed him down. "I felt great during the preseason. But ever since the injury, I'm not where I'd like to be. The more ice time I get, I believe I can get more comfortable on the ice and play better." He has won 19 percent of his face-offs.