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January 9, 2006 - Progress for Primeau, but no timetable for his return

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Progress for Primeau, but no timetable for his return

At one end of the ice at the Flyers' practice facility, Robert Esche took shots from goaltenders coach Reggie Lemelin. In the middle of the ice, trainer Jim McCrossin worked with defenseman Joni Pitkanen on his skating. And looping them at three-quarters speed, around and around the rink, endlessly, was team captain Keith Primeau.


Tonight, the Flyers' 11-game road trip continues with Game 9 in New Jersey. The other two rehabilitating Flyers are moving closer to returning, but this will mark the 33d consecutive game that the tall center has missed while recovering from post-concussion syndrome.


"This has been a lot of what I have been doing the past couple of weeks on the ice," Primeau said. "I do 45 minutes of skating, and then I get back on the stationary bike."

No one knows when or if Primeau will play again this season. He is wearing a tinted visor on the ice to filter out bright light and reduce the spinning sensation he sometimes feels. He still is experiencing some concussion symptoms.

"The spinning sensation that I was having, it's subsiding and doing a lot better," he said. "It's really a visual thing when I start handling a puck. Things move quicker in front of me that I can't concentrate on, and that is when I get the spinning, and it aggravates that sensation."

Like the medication he is taking to help him regain a sense of balance, Primeau said the visor is helping filter out glare, which also causes him problems.

"It's the effect that light has on my eyes," he said. "It kind of tones down the brightness. I'm not sure that I will stay with it, but I am feeling more comfortable with it, and that has to be part of the equation."


It was hoped that Primeau would be back sometime in January. Now there is a general consensus on the team that his inactivity will stretch into February. That puts pressure on general manager Bob Clarke to decide coming out of the Olympic break whether he needs to find another center by the March 9 trade deadline.

For now, Primeau's $3.16 million salary does not count against the salary cap.

"He is progressing," McCrossin said. "When is he coming back? I wish I could tell you."


Primeau has wondered if it is too late to attempt a comeback this season.

"I have not placed a deadline," he said. "I have thought about it, and it stresses me out. One great thing is that the team has been patient with me. They have not imposed a deadline - to me, anyway. They've allowed me to heal. That enables me as much as possible to relax and not concern myself with it.

"I realize that at some point there has to be a deadline."