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February 28, 2006 - Flyers React to Primeau's Decision

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Flyers React to Primeau's Decision

Teammates were hopeful captain could return

Voorhees, NJ - Several Flyers were asked to comment on Tuesday on Flyers center Keith Primeau's decision to sit out the remainder of the 2005-06 season due to a concussion, which he announced during a press conference in the morning at the Sovereign Bank Flyers Skate Zone.

Below are excerpts from Primeau's press conference, as well as what several of his teammates and Flyers management had to say about the situation.

Keith Primeau: "In starting, I would like to thank all of those people who really helped me during the course of the winter. I would like to thank Mr. Snider and Bob Clarke for the opportunity to search out whatever medical advice that I needed to search for over the last few months. It’s refreshing to know as an athlete that you have support of the franchise. Their sincerity is genuine and it is much appreciated.

"I made this decision with difficulty as I hoped to not get to this point. Although I have made progress in my recovery (and) my vision has cleared up in the last three weeks, which is a nice change of pace, because it was a constant reminder of the difficulty that I was having. I still have symptoms when I do my physical therapy. At this time I’m not at 100 percent, not symptom-free and will not be able to finish this season. I have made this decision in hopes of prolonging my career and I
Sami Kapanen celebrates a goal with Keith Primeau in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals in Tampa Bay in 2004
will continue to strive to return in the Fall.

"The reason for this press conference is to put to rest all the speculation about my returning this season and to afford the Flyers the opportunity to do what they need to do in order help our hockey club win a Championship. I discussed with Clarkie the best route to take yesterday and if I was feeling better by the time the playoffs (started), it will have been two years that I have played consistently and that makes me susceptible in itself.

"The doctors believe that I am going to get better and they are very pleased with progress albeit slow. In due time, I will recover and I will have the opportunity to play again.

"I don’t know if I have fully come to terms with the decision I’ve had to make. I’m a hockey player and that’s what I do. But, speaking to those that are the closest to me, it’s the right decision. It’s the right decision for my health and that is why I made the decision."

Eric Desjardins: “We have played most of the year without him, but you still like to have guys like him who are warriors going down the stretch and into the playoffs. I think at this point it’s more for his health. He’s got to focus on that to make sure he can function normally in day-to-day life. Hockey is very important in his life, but living his life normally with his family is what he has to focus on.

“He’s a warrior and he’s a guy that has proven he can raise his game to another level in the playoffs. He’s going to be missed, but we have to focus here on doing the job.”

Derian Hatcher: “I guess it puts closure to it, but I think everyone would have liked to have seen him back. He’s a real asset to the hockey team, but I understand both sides. I understand where Keith, with something like that, you don’t want to mess around with it. The later in the season we get with him, then the team can’t use the money. It’s one of those things where I understand both sides of it.

“That is what I prepared for, and if he was coming back I was going to give [the captaincy] back to him. When I agreed to it, I thought about that before hand. I’ll approach it the same.

“Everyone is a little disappointed, but he’s been out for most of the year. He’s going to be out the remainder of the year, and we’ve had so many injuries we’re used to players being in and out of the lineup. It might help a little knowing there’s closure and that he’s not going to come back, but I don’t know if it will.”

Sami Kapanen: “You have four kids and a wife and home, and you don’t want to go out there and get hit to a point that you’re suffering in your everyday life. He can’t be selfish by coming back and playing.

“I was asking him at one point how his family feels about it. Everybody knows he wants to play. That’s not the case. But, you need to think about your other members in your family too and make the right choice and not putting anything on the line that way.

“You could read off of him that the chances of him coming back weren’t that high, but everybody was still pulling for him and hoping he would find a way to be healthy enough to be part of the team again.”

Mike Knuble: “I think it’s something that he waited as long as he could, and it’s the right thing to do. I was talking to him a little bit earlier and he said he had to do the right thing, and it is. He’s got to give the team flexibility to go out and pursue something.

"Keith is a huge part of this team, and we would take him over anybody that we could get through any kind of trade. He’s better than any trade we can get for our team and what he does here. Hopefully things will work out for him in September, and he’ll be ready to be back and have a great 06-07. We’ll miss him. There’s no secret about that and no denying that.”

Ed Snider: "I’m sitting next to two get great captains. We’ve missed Keith all year long and we know what he did in the last playoff and almost led us to the Stanley Cup Finals. We really miss Keith but I know this is best for him and his future and I’m sure he is going to come to training camp in good health and we are looking forward to that."

Ken Hitchcock: “The captain in hockey, in our sport, is very important. The locker room and the bench is a very emotional and volatile area. Keith did a tremendous job in developing his captaincy skills and being able to dissect information from the coach’s office to the players and vice versa. That’s a very unique skill and he worked really hard at it. He developed his game and he also developed his leadership skills. He’ll be missed.

“We’re really lucky that we were able to get Derian. He’s got tremendous experience there, but when you have a captain of Keith’s caliber, it’s like gold. When a captain can sit inside the locker room and dissect the information from the misinformation and cut to the chase as quickly as he could, you get a lot of things done. You get a lot of things accomplished, which is what this team did in 2004. So, he’s going to be missed. It falls on other people to lead now. My hope is that Keith is able to be treated as an injured player and that he’s able to hang around our team and provide us with the information that we need, both players and coaches, to continue to help us and get himself ready for next year.

“I’m more confident now than I’ve ever been in watching him because I’m around him on a daily basis, to see the improvement in him in the last three months. I’m very confident that he’s going to play next year, but he’s just run out of time to play this year.”