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January 30, 2006 - For Flyers, there's no 'C' in Primeau, but there is in Hatcher

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For Flyers, there's no 'C' in Primeau, but there is in Hatcher

By ED HILT Staff Writer, (609) 272-7190
Published: Monday, January 30, 2006
Updated: Monday, January 30, 2006

VOORHEES-General manager Bob Clarke and coach Ken Hitchcock discussed the Philadelphia Flyers' slide in Clarke's office Sunday morning at the team's training site. Then they asked captain Keith Primeau to join them.

Clarke and Hitchcock know the Flyers, who have lost seven of 10, have issues. They concluded leadership was among them. So they asked Primeau, who hasn't played since October, if he would mind temporarily stepping aside as captain while they passed the responsibility to veteran defenseman Derian Hatcher.

The move revealed just how serious the Flyers consider their situation. The captaincy carries a greater importance in hockey than in any other sport. The captain sets the tone in the locker room. The other players customarily look to the captain for direction. The captain, more than most sports, is almost an extension of the coaching staff.

The "C'' is not moved from one sweater to another lightly.

"Clarkie and Hitch said the team is kind of like a lost ship at sea right now,'' said Primeau, whose return is uncertain due to symptoms of post-concussion syndrome. "We're kind of floundering and needing some direction. With my uncertainty, as good as the guys have been in finding ways to win hockey games, right now we're in a tough stretch and we need that direction. Not knowing my availability, they felt we needed direction now. The team is more important than my pride at this time. So this is the right decision.''

Simon Gagne and Sami Kapanen will be the assistant captains.

Hatcher was a captain with the Dallas Stars under Hitchcock when they won the Stanley Cup in 1999.

"I think Hitch and maybe some of the players and the organization felt that with some of what has been going on that there needed to be a captain, a voice in the room that represents the room,'' said Hatcher, who becomes 13th Flyer to be named captain, and the team's 14th captain overall. "I think working with Hitch before and being a captain, I can bring some experience. Maybe I can help the guys with Hitch more.''

NOTES: Flyers trainer Jim McCrossin said Peter Forsberg, out with a groin strain, will be examined by Dr. William Garrett on Tuesday in North Carolina. Garrett is a professor of surgery (orthopaedics) at Duke University Medical Center. Forsberg had an MRI done on his groin Friday. The MRI was sent to Garrett, who will read it today. McCrossin said Garrett was one of the leading specialists on muscle injuries. ... Defenseman Kim Johnsson, who left Saturday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning with dizziness, will see a neuro-ophthalmologist today.