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February 7, 2006 - Doctors recommend Primeau sit

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Doctors recommend Primeau sit
Two doctors have recommended to Flyers forward Keith Primeau that he sit out the remainder of the season in order to recover from his latest concussion.

Primeau is not ready to make that final decision just yet.

Primeau traveled to Toronto on Sunday to get a third opinion from an undisclosed doctor in hopes of finding out that he has a chance to play hockey again this season.

"Right now, I am in Toronto, checking with one more specialist in a different field in the hopes that we can try to find anything else that we may have missed," Primeau said Monday. "I will probably be here for another 24 to 48 hours and then be returning to Philadelphia."

However, chances appear to be slim that Primeau will receive the good news and one Flyers source said Primeau was planning to announce his decision to shut it down for the season and that announcement could come as soon as this week.

Primeau would not confirm that was the case.

"In speaking with (Flyers general manager Bob Clarke), as everyone knows, a couple weeks ago I had to have a decision by the end of the Olympic break (February 27)," said Primeau. "I have since then been advised by the doctors that it may be in my best interests to forego playing this year and continue my rehab in hopes of returning in September.

"(Clarke) and the organization are all aware of those conversations that I’ve had with the doctors, and I told them that I would let them know as soon as I have made a decision and felt comfortable with that decision. As far as making it today or tomorrow or Wednesday or at any point this week, it’s just a difficult decision and I haven’t set a day where I am going to make any formal announcement. I know that making the decision, though, is in the not-too-distant future."

Primeau has missed 46 of the Flyers’ 55 games this season after suffering a concussion when he was hit on the chin by the elbow of Montreal Canadiens rookie Alexander Perezhogin Oct. 25.

Primeau actually played two more games after the hit, but then was sidelined in Ottawa on Oct. 30, when it was learned that he had suffered another concussion.

It has been speculated it was Primeau’s fourth concussion in a span of 18 months. He missed 21 games in the 2003-04 season after suffering a concussion against the New York Rangers on Feb. 12, 2004, and later may have played through two separate concussions in the 2003-04 playoffs.

"I continue to feel as though I’m making improvements with the therapy in Philadelphia with my therapist," said Primeau. "(But), I am not making the kind of gains that ultimately I would have liked to have made by this time. I just continue to work to get better."

While he can work all he wants, the writing appears to be on the wall for Primeau -- literally.

Primeau gave up the captaincy of the Flyers to Derian Hatcher in late January, and supposedly did so on an interim basis until he could return.

However, while the "interim" tag still technically exists for Hatcher, the Flyers have made it permanent in their locker room at the Wachovia Center.

In the hallway outside the locker room, the Flyers have several acknowledgments and remembrances painted on the walls, like the names of each of the winners of the Bobby Clarke Trophy as team MVP or the names of certain deceased former Flyers who are remembered under the heading "Flyers Forever."

Then, there is the list of team captains. Primeau used to be the bottom player on the list, with the starting date of his tenure reading 2001-02 and an empty space next to the ending date.

That is until recently.

Now, the wall reads: "Keith Primeau, 2001-02 to 2005-06."

And below that it reads: "Derian Hatcher, 2005-06." Followed by an empty space for when his tenure as team captain would end.

Clarke was unavailable for comment because he was traveling to Las Vegas for the NHL G.M.’s meeting, but he released a statement through the team public relations staff.

"I think Keith stated it very clearly the position that he is in," said Clarke. "Obviously, when he is ready to make a decision about returning or not returning this year, he will and we respect that."

The sooner Primeau makes that decision, the sooner Clarke can begin working on shaping how the Flyers will look post-Olympics.

The trade deadline is March 9, and it is suspected that many deals will be formulated -- if not struck -- in Vegas this week.

If Primeau decides to hang up the skates for the season, it would place the Flyers roughly $1.4 million below the salary cap and give them some leeway to make any trades they feel they need to improve.

There is speculation the Flyers could be in the market for a couple players, namely a puck-moving defenseman and a scoring winger.

Primeau said when the decision comes -- whether it’s this week or later this month -- it will be a difficult one to make.

"It’s sad, because all I want to do is play," he said. "Unfortunately at this time, my head will just not allow me to play. Obviously, I am running the emotional gamut from sadness to disappointment to frustration to anxiety. But, I also know that my health is of the utmost importance."