For most of the Flyers, Thanksgiving is just another day.
Of the current team, only three Flyers are American-born, the rest are either Canadian or European.
It has been that way for Keith Primeau for most of his adult life. Even though he married an American woman
and his children were born in the United States, American holidays were just that for the Toronto native - American holidays.
Three weeks ago, Primeau became a naturalized citizen of the United States and yesterday celebrated his first
Thanksgiving as an American.
"It will be different for me," Primeau said, "because now we're all American. We celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving
and the kids know my heritage and my background and have duel citizenships, but this means just as much to me as it does to
them to be Canadian.
"I've been in the U.S. a long time and it's been great to me. It's where my family is and I feel heartfelt
gratitude. To me, this is an honor. I'm proud to be American."
Primeau was at the Flyers' practice facility in Voorhees, N.J., yesterday morning. While the rest of the players
were getting in a skate in preparation for today's game in Boston against the Bruins, Primeau was getting a light workout.
He still is experiencing concussion symptoms and will continue to be out of the lineup indefinitely, though
he says the symptoms are starting to abate some. It's frustrating for the Flyers' captain to be away for so long but he spent
time yesterday with his teammates and talking about his new holiday.
The idea to gain American citizenship was not something Primeau just decided to do. He has spent more time
in the United States than in Canada since beginning his professional hockey career.
"I've been in the U.S. since I was 18 years old," Primeau said. He started the naturalization process 9 years
ago when he was still playing in Detroit.
He obtained his green card 5 years ago and was ready to take the oath in 2001, until the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"I was going to do it just before 9/11, but then I figured that it was going to take some time so I waited another year and
I started the process again about 18 months ago." he said.
Primeau said he began taking classes and attending meetings at the U.S. immigration offices in Cherry Hill.
He expected to stand in a group with other new Americans on the day he took his oath. "I used to go over there and see these
groups of people all standing around waiting and holding little American flags," he said.
But the day he was scheduled to take the oath, he had to reschedule because the Flyers had a game. At the
time, he wasn't injured and was playing.
"I kept going to meetings and 3 weeks ago I was leaving and [his wife Lisa] said, 'You know they're going
to swear you in.' I didn't think so. So she didn't come with me.
"Then when I got there, they told me they were going to swear me in and gave me 15 minutes notice. I called
Lisa. She thought I was kidding. I told her I wasn't...
"Turns out I waited 45 minutes and she could have made it over. But I took the oath by myself. It was very
emotional for me."