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March 1, 2006 - Players, coaches support decision

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Players, coaches support decision


If he does have to walk away from the game for good, Keith Primeau says there will be some unfinished business left behind.

That would include a Stanley Cup, even if he were to be a close bystander should the Flyers somehow win it this year.

"It (retirement) still hasn't crossed my mind," Primeau said Tuesday. "This decision today is made with the intention of prolonging my career. I feel at some point I will play again.

"I'm going to try to stay involved. I was part of the team went the season started. I hope the team does have success."

Could he step aside without regret? How would it feel?

"Incomplete," said Primeau, who's only 34. "I still have some goals that I want to attain. I've accomplished some things that a lot of other players never will, but that doesn't give me solace. My intent isn't to quit yet.

"There are still a lot of things I want to do in this game, and one of them is win a Cup. There are still more things that can be accomplished."

Primeau says if, by some miracle, he felt better in a month or so, doctors say he would need a month without symptoms before stepping on the ice again.

After practice, players and coaches expressed sadness over Primeau's short-term outlook but relief that he's taking the proper course of action.

"I think it hits everyone hard when you lose the captain of your team," said 20-year-old Mike Richards, who dresses next to Primeau. "He's worked so hard to come back, to have his season cut short, you feel for him. To have a guy like that go out of your locker room is pretty tough."

"He waited as long as he could, and it's the right thing to do," said Mike Knuble, who sits to the other side of Primeau. "He has to give the team flexibility to go out and pursue something.

"Keith is a huge part of this team. We would take him over anybody. He's better than any trade we can get. We'll miss him, there's no denying that."

"Keith did a tremendous job with his captaincy skills, dissecting information from the coaches to the players and vice versa," said coach Ken Hitchcock.

"But when you have a captain of Keith's caliber, it's like gold. When a captain can sit inside a locker room and cut to the chase as quickly as he could, you get a lot of things done."

Rumors are flying that the Flyers will go after Keith Tkachuk of St. Louis. But there is talk in Columbus that either David Vyborny, who played well for the Czech Republic in the Olympics, or Jan Hrdina could be headed this way.

Peter Forsberg stopped in Sweden with his gold medal on his way back from the Olympics but will play in New Jersey tonight.

Primeau's career highlights

1990: Selected third overall by the Detroit Red Wings in NHL entry draft.

1999: Named to his first All-Star team.

2000: Scores winning goal in fifth overtime of playoff game at Pittsburgh.

2001: Registers career-high 39 goals; ties career high with 73 points.

2004: Collects nine goals in Stanley Cup playoffs, matching his previous career postseason total.