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February 21, 2006 - Don't expect Primeau to return this season

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Don't expect Primeau to return this season

By ED MORAN
morane@phillynews.com

Far from the hockey arenas where many of his friends and teammates are competing for an Olympic medal, Keith Primeau was enjoying a day of skiing with his family in the Pocono Mountains.

He knew little more than the results of the games taking place in Turin. He didn't know what was going on with Team Canada or Team USA, or why they are having so many problems scoring goals.

Watching hockey, being around hockey, is something Primeau is struggling with today because he knows there will be no more for him this season.

He has not made enough progress recovering from the persistent concussion symptoms that have kept his head spinning since he was elbowed on the chin during a game in Montreal last fall.

He hasn't made a public announcement; he can barely bring himself to say it over the phone, but Primeau has decided to end his fight to play this season and was planning to tell Flyers general manager Bob Clarke of his decision as soon as Primeau got back yesterday afternoon.

"I haven't made any decisions known or made an announcement," he told the Daily News yesterday. "But I have an idea what I have to do. I'm having such a hard time committing to not playing. I can't come to grips with it and I just keep procrastinating, and avoiding it. I can't even say it.

"Right now I'm up in the mountains with my kids and there's not a cloud in the sky. We had some great snow on Saturday and when we got here it was cold. But right now it's beautiful.

"But I'm going back [yesterday afternoon] to see Clarke and come up with a plan of action about when I want to make the announcement and what I want to do.

"I know what I want to do," he said. "But my heart is telling me one thing, while my head is telling me another."

And so without actually saying so, Primeau made it clear that he was done for this season.

Right now the only thing he is thinking about is what he wants to do with his time for the rest of the season. The Flyers, he said, want him to stay around the team.

He also has a hockey equipment company that he started during the lockout that he can devote his time to running. But those are the questions he is dealing with now.

The decision about the season already has been made. Really, there is no surprise in this. The Flyers' doctors told him 2 weeks ago that they would not clear him to return.

The concussion he sustained in October was just another in a long list of head injuries he has suffered and his head is telling him enough is enough.

Even now, after visiting specialists across the country and in Canada, many of whom have held hope that he will be able to play again this season, the reality is he is not healthy.

He said he stills gets dizzy, his head still spins and this week another symptom returned: "I've had terrible headaches this week. I haven't had those for a long time."

So now the questions are what does he want to do for the rest of this year, and what does he want to do in the future. "I really can't say," Primeau said.

"That's part of what I have to discuss with Clarke. I know they want me around, but that's part of what's difficult about this."

But does he want to play again?

"I'm taking this course of action in the hopes of prolonging my career," he said. "All my doctors believe that in due time I'll get better. It's what I'm hoping for."