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November 1, 2005 - Concussion sidelines Flyers' Primeau

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Concussion sidelines Flyers' Primeau

From staff and wire reports

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Flyers captain Keith Primeau underwent cognitive tests at Jefferson University Hospital, where it was determined he has suffered another concussion and is experiencing whiplash symptoms.

According to Primeau, this is the fifth documented concussion of his 15-year NHL career. The question of how many concussions Primeau can sustain before suffering long-term brain damage is something the Flyers are examining carefully.

"That is why we are monitoring his symptoms daily," Flyers head trainer Jim McCrossin said. "Keith's health is our first priority. There is life after hockey."

Primeau, who will turn 34 later this month, has a wife and four children. He said his last documented concussion, which occurred on Feb. 12, 2004 in a collision with former Rangers center Bobby Holik, resulted in post-concussion symptoms that lasted for 16 months.

He said those prolonged symptoms made him second-guess his decision to return for the 2004 playoffs, when he led the Flyers in scoring with nine goals and 16 points in 18 playoff games.

"I wonder now how smart that was because the last one (in 2004) felt cumulative," Primeau said. "It felt like all the times I've been bumped since I was a kid. That's not a good feeling."

Primeau's latest troubles began one week ago when he was elbowed in the head by Montreal Canadiens rookie Alexander Perezhogin.

Primeau played two more games after the hit, but when he complained of headaches and neck tension before the Flyers' game against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night, the Flyers kept him out of the lineup.

On Monday, Primeau was examined by Dorshimer and McGinnis, the team's neurologist. According to NHL Players' Association guidelines, Primeau must now wait a minimum of seven days before undergoing further neuro-psychological testing.

McCrossin said Dorshimer and McGinnis did not put a grade on Primeau's latest concussion, but are treating it as cumulative head trauma. He said the club is also working to relieve tension in Primeau's upper cervical area with massage therapy.

McCrossin said Primeau will be restricted to taking walks for at least two days and there is no date for when he can resume physical exercise.

The Flyers must report Primeau's information to the NHL, which is collecting data on every player who suffers a concussion. Former Flyers center Eric Lindros, who sat out the entire 2000-01 season with concussion symptoms, has been instrumental in the study.

"I never understood what Eric was going through, but now I do," Primeau said.