By CHUCK GORMLEY
Special to The News Journal
VOORHEES, N.J. -- Flyers captain Keith Primeau said he was hoping Tuesday's announcement that he will not play the remainder of the Flyers' regular season would bring "finality" to his attempt to recover from post-concussion syndrome.
But when asked if there is even the slightest chance he will return to play for the Flyers in the playoffs, Primeau, 34, left that window of opportunity open, albeit just a crack.
"A lot of things would have to happen in my favor for that to occur," Primeau said.
"I'd have to be symptom free for a minimum of four weeks," he said. "Conditioning becomes a whole new set of factors. And then there's a place for me to fit in. There are a lot of unknowns and hypotheticals. I made this decision in hopes of getting better, and I'm going to live with that decision for a while."
In all likelihood, Primeau will follow the advice of his doctors, who have recommended he not subject himself to body contact until training camp begins in September.
"If I were to be hit again while still suffering these concussion symptoms, I could be in a whole lot of hurt," Primeau said. "That's one of the biggest reasons the doctors wouldn't give me clearance, because they didn't feel comfortable I could avoid long-term problems."
Primeau said he was told he could suffer a stroke if he returns to the ice too soon.
"They won't accept that liability," he said.
Primeau decided it was time he give up his daily fight to get back into the Flyers' lineup and think instead of waiting until September to resume a career that has lasted 16 years and produced 619 points in 909 games.
His teammates agree it was the right decision.
"Hockey is important, but you have your life," said defenseman Eric Desjardins.
Primeau, who has two years and more than $6 million remaining on his contract with the Flyers, said he has not even entertained the thought of hanging up his skates for good.
"It still hasn't crossed my mind," he said. "I honestly believe the decision I made today is an attempt to prolong my career."
Primeau said he would like to continue to be around the team. Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said he would like to have Primeau act as an associate captain with defenseman Derian Hatcher, who was named interim captain on Jan. 29.