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October 10, 2005 - Primeau adjusts to new role

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Primeau adjusts to new role


By WAYNE FISH
phillyBurbs.com

If he weren't the captain, Keith Primeau might not have to be so politically correct in talking about what might be called his new "job definition" with the Flyers.

New because, after two games, it's abundantly clear that power plays could be a bigger part of the game this season.

This affects Primeau two ways. Since he's one of the team's best penalty killers, he's going to see a lot of action there.

But since coach Ken Hitchcock hasn't been using him on the power play, Primeau sits a lot in that period of time.

So when the Flyers have an unusual number of power plays (a total of 15 in the first two games), No. 25 becomes, well, a cheerleader.

"If he wants me to sit on the bench and cheer for 60 minutes, I'll cheer for 60 minutes," said Primeau with a half smile. "If he wants me to go play for 60 minutes, I'll go play for 60 minutes. He's the coach, I'm the player, and I just do as I'm told."

Primeau played only 11 minutes opening night. That number increased to 15 in Friday night's win over the Devils.

The important thing here is that Primeau says the right thing because everyone else in the locker room is seeing how he reacts to Hitchcock's orders.

If Primeau is willing to make the sacrifice, then the rest of the team has to fall in behind him.

"That's the only way our locker room can work is [if] we all accept our roles," Primeau said. "If I accept the cards that are dealt, if I accept what Hitch is asking of me, it gives nobody an excuse not to accept what they're doing."

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Suffice to say, the situation is crucial to the Flyers' team chemistry.

Tough times ahead

Hitchcock says teams like the Flyers are going to need a little more time to find their rhythm than clubs with a lot of skill players.

The Flyers were made aware of this in their loss to the skate-happy New York Rangers on opening night.

"I think we're still a long ways away from reaching our potential," said the coach. "This is a team with a lot of parts, but you have to go through tough times to build the team the right way.

"We have a lot of tough times still to go through. We have a lot of people new to each other. Teams with top-end skill are having a field day right now but teams who are built for the long haul - such as ourselves - are going to take some time to catch up."