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November 12, 2005 - With Primeau hurt, who fills in as captain?

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Posted on Sat, Nov. 12, 2005

With Primeau hurt, who fills in as captain?

It has been nearly 2 full weeks since Flyers captain Keith Primeau went out with persistent concussion symptoms, and there is still no sign that he will return any time soon.

When asked yesterday for an update, coach Ken Hitchcock wasn't even aware of his status.

"I don't even know, to be honest," he said. "I'm just assuming that he's out. We knew he felt better yesterday than he did the day before, but I'm not really sure where it's at right now.

"He usually comes in early and gets all of his [treatment] out of the way. But you know what? He's not even able to exercise right now. So he's not even cleared to do that."

When a coach is not even aware of a player's progress, it a sure sign that Primeau is still a long way from returning. And that opens the door again to the captaincy question.

It's not really that big of a deal, but considering that Hitchcock believes in leadership roles and tapping certain players to be more vocal in the locker room, it's a bit surprising that the Flyers are going only with three assistant captains.

Last week, Hitchcock said he was going to have Simon Gagne wear the "C," but Gagne declined, saying that he was not comfortable. So tonight when the Flyers take the ice against the Florida Panthers at the Wachovia Center, there again will be three assistant captains and no captain.

Yesterday, Gagne said he is still reluctant to assume the role, but indicated that if Primeau's absence persists, he would be willing to take the job - provided the team agreed.

"I talked to a couple of guys about it and I talked to [Primeau] about it and said I was not comfortable to wear that," Gagne said. "I told him, 'Preams, you're the captain. I should not wear that, and wait and see what's going to happen with you.'

"Then I talked to Eric Desjardins, and after that, we talked with [Hitchcock] and sat down and talked about it. The other question was, 'Can the NHL make us put a captain in place?' "

The answer to that was no. According to Hitchcock, the league does not require a player to assume the role of the captain, but it does require that one player be appointed to talk to the referees when there is a question during the game.

Hitchcock said that player is Gagne.

"We ran into this question [during the Islanders game Thursday night]," Hitchcock said. "We need a guy to go and speak to the referee when there's a critical situation on the ice. They don't want one of three guys going there. So we designated [Gagne] to go and do that."

All of this is working for the short term, but if Primeau remains out, it could change, and Gagne could be persuaded to take a captain's role.

"I don't feel comfortable first of all because [Primeau] is the captain," Gagne said. "It's not like we don't have a captain. We have a captain. He's hurt right now and he's going to be back. So I don't see why we have to have another captain when your captain is Keith Primeau.

"Hopefully, he's going to be back. If it's not going to happen, maybe I'll sit down with all the leaders and see what we can do and make not only me, but everybody, comfortable with that decision. It's not only one guy. Everyone has to decide if we need a captain, if it's going to be longer than we think. I definitely want to do it, but I want to make sure everybody agrees with that."