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November 1, 2005 - No timetable on Primeaus return

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No timetable on Primeau’s return
VOORHEES, N.J. -- The Flyers worst fears were confirmed Monday when it was learned they could be without their captain for a significant period of time. Keith Primeau was diagnosed with a concussion and whiplash by Dr. Gary Dorshimer and team neurologist Gerri McGuinnis after baseline neuro-psychological testing at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

According to team trainer Jim McCrossin, there is no timetable for Primeau’s return, and he is out indefinitely.

"It’s a concussion but he has whiplash-like symptoms," McCrossin said. "What I mean by that is his (neck) muscles are real tight. We’re currently working on that to try and relieve the tension in his muscles."

McCrossin said the combination of the two injuries can be more dangerous because of the effects it has on Primeau’s body.

"The significance of that is two-fold," said McCrossin. "One, its causing irritation and it can slow down circulation. Second, is that the muscles at the neck go up into your head, and if they are tight, it’s pulling down on that part of the head and can cause a headache. We’re trying to relieve that symptom right now to see if it will relieve some of the headaches that Keith has been reporting."

Primeau suffered the concussion when he was hit in the jaw with a blatant elbow by Montreal Canadiens rookie Alexander Perezhogin last Tuesday.

Primeau played through what he thought was fatigue from not having played competitively for more than a year when he skated last Thursday and Friday against Florida and Carolina.

However, following the Carolina game he said he wasn’t feeling right, and Sunday morning, Primeau alerted McCrossin of some dizzy spells and neck pain.

He didn’t practice with the team and was subsequently scratched from the lineup for Sunday’s win in Ottawa.

"He does have headaches," said McCrossin. "He does have really tight (neck) muscles. He’s got a headache going across the frontal portion of his head, right where the sinus would be. He doesn’t have any nausea, but when he lies down he feels like he’s spinning. He also said that his eyes feel dizzy. He may be focusing, but the eyes are kind of going back and forth. Things are in focus, but his eyes fatigue quickly."

Primeau said he didn’t feel much different Monday than he had over the weekend, and said he didn’t want to put a timeline on his return.

"Mostly today I didn’t feel any different than I’ve felt the last two or three days," he said. "It’s not constant, not 24 hours. I didn’t have the double vision that kept me out of the lineup for several weeks the last time.

"I don’t know (when I’ll be back). The last time I kept putting time lines on it and said that I would come back and they just kept coming and going and I got more and more frustrated. Now, when I feel right, I’ll be back at the rink."

Primeau is restricted from any activities while suffering the aforementioned symptoms and will be limited to taking walks as far as exerting himself for the time being.

Primeau will be re-tested in one week, assuming he is symptom free.

This is the fourth concussion, or closed-head injury, Primeau has suffered in the last 20 months.

Primeau was hit by then-New York Ranger Bobby Holik Feb. 12, 2004. He missed 21 games.

He later suffered two head injuries in the playoffs, first in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Toronto and later in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay.

Primeau confirmed that he was still suffering from some of the symptoms of his previous concussions as recently as last July.

Now, with the latest injury, Primeau may have to start thinking more long-term -- as in life after hockey. He has to wonder when has he had his bell rung one too many times.

"I wish I had that answer," he said. "That’s one question that I really did ask myself before the start of the season and still do. I thought that it was a black-and-white answer and I really did think that I was just one good hit away from the end. But then there’s the gray (area).

"It’s not as severe as the last time and I still want to play and I still want to win and now is not the time."

As for the professional opinions, well, they vary on each individual basis.

"Each and every (concussion), as you know, are different," said McCrossin. "They grade concussions. I spoke with Dr. Dorshimer today, and at this time, there wasn’t a grade put on it. But the original question was, how many can he sustain? Well, that goes into an individual basis and that is beyond my scope. That’s why we have experts in the field and that’s why we’re monitoring his symptoms daily.

"Hopefully, this one will be the last one he ever has, but with our sport, that is probably highly unlikely. I wish I could answer that. I’d be lying to you to say that at six we’re going to call it quits. That’s where Dr. Dorshimer and all the different doctors will have to make a decision. Obviously, Keith’s self is our number-one priority. There’s life after hockey."

If, as expected, Primeau misses significant time due to this injury, the Flyers will be down an entire line of strong defensive forwards for the better part of the next month.

Primeau will join Sami Kapanen (shoulder) and Turner Stevenson (hip) on the shelf.

And while the Flyers called up R.J. Umberger from the Phantoms to replace Primeau Sunday, a long-term absence by the captain may force G.M. Bob Clarke’s hand in an effort to get creative under the salary cap and find another veteran body on a suddenly very young team.

Also on the injury front, McCrossin said that defenseman Kim Johnsson was still sore Monday following a left groin strain in the first period of the Ottawa game.

McCrossin said Johnsson would begin rehab today and is being considered day-to-day.

"Hopefully we’ll have him back by Thursday," said McCrossin referring to the Flyers next game against Washington. "But if not, maybe by Saturday."

Since the Flyers are home for the next couple weeks, the probability of a recall of another defenseman from the Phantoms seems unlikely as Dennis Seidenberg could move into the starting lineup in Johnsson’s place if need be.