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December 30, 2005 - Primeau making progress from concussion

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Primeau making progress from concussion

By ED MORAN
morane@phillynews.com

Keith Pri-meau has been up and down the East Coast looking for answers.

Since suffering his latest concussion and being out with persistent dizziness and headaches, Primeau has been quietly doing everything he can to come back to the game. He hasn't played since Oct. 28.

He has been to Chapel Hill, N.C., seeking out experts in imbalance disorders, and he has most recently been to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania looking for relief from the spinning spells.

But the window is starting to close. Probably by the end of January, Primeau and the Flyers will have to decide whether he can play, because the team will need to fill his shoes.

It's one thing to punch through the regular season, gutting out wins with AHL callups, it's something else entirely to go into the playoffs without a dominant checking center. To replace Primeau, the Flyers will need to take his salary off the payroll.

Over the last 2 weeks, Primeau has been taking medication intended to help him focus his vision and to reduce the dizziness he experiences daily.

General manager Bob Clarke says the results have been encouraging, and he now believes his big captain will be back in the lineup.

"He saw a doctor in Philly a week ago and they put him on some kind of medication," Clarke said. "He's been training and skating for 45 minutes, he's been lifting weights and everything.

"He's had some spinning after that, but even though it's happening, he said they're getting shorter all the time. So he feels like he's getting better."

Asked whether he believed Primeau would return this season, Clarke answered, "Yes, I do now."

Flyers trainer Jim McCrossin said he is in daily contact with Primeau and the doctors at HUP and that he has been told they will know within 2 weeks whether the medication will be the final answer. McCrossin said, however, that he could not give an answer to the question of the 34-year-old Primeau's career continuing.

"Anyone who will tell you yea or nay doesn't really know," he said. According to McCrossin, Pri-meau is not only taking the medication, but he has a series of eye exercises designed to train him to focus and overcome the bouts of spinning.

"We're encouraged, because his symptoms aren't lasting as long," McCrossin said. "I spoke with [Primeau yesterday], he's skating and doing imbalance rehab at HUP. He's still getting dizzy spells, but they aren't lasting nearly as long as they have.

"He said he's fighting now to see if he can't make his eyes unfocus. He said before he was fighting to focus them. It's not a big battle anymore to keep his concentration, and that's what he's doing over at HUP.

"I'm not going to count him out. There's no way you can count him out. Does he want to come back? Absolutely, he wants to come back. And he's working toward that every day."