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March 31, 2006 - Primeau denies comeback attempt

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Primeau denies comeback attempt
 
Friday, March 31, 2006

VOORHEES

Despite a radio report Thursday that he is attempting a comeback for the playoffs, Flyers center Keith Primeau confirmed through a Flyers spokesman Thursday night that, as of now, that is not the case.

"At this time, I can unequivocally state, 100 percent, that I am not returning for the playoffs," Primeau said.

Sidelined with concussion symptoms since Oct. 28, Primeau has begun on-ice workouts with defenseman Kim Johnsson, who also is recovering from a concussion.

"I don't want to start any controversy or any questioning and I hope I don't have to change my therapy regimen because people see me on the ice," Primeau said.

"If I come back I will let everybody know, but at this time I am not planning to return for the playoffs."

Primeau, 34, said his increased presence on the ice and around the team might have fueled speculation that he will return for the playoffs. He reiterated recently that he would need to be symptom free for at least four weeks before even considering a comeback during the playoffs.

At best, that would mean a return to the lineup no sooner than the second round of the playoffs.

"I'm doing much better," Primeau said. "A lot of the spinning sensation causing me tremendous difficulty and grief has subsided and is pretty much non-existent. The difficulty I experience now is some residual pressure and headaches and some light- headedness with exertion and extreme physical therapy."

Primeau said his goal of returning to full activity in September has not changed.

Rookie times: Friday night, Ryan Potulny saw his college hockey career end when the heavily favored University of Minnesota team was upset by Holy Cross in the semifinals of the NCAA West Regionals.

Five nights later, the 21-year-old center from Grand Forks, N.D., was on a plane to Philadelphia, where on Thursday he began his professional career as a member of the Flyers.

"Everything got done by 3 p.m.," Potulny said of the two-year, $1.6 million contract he signed Wednesday, "and they said they'd have a plan for me at 7:20. I scrambled to get as many clothes as I could. I was in my (Voorhees) hotel at midnight."

By Thursday morning, Potulny was on the Skate Zone ice centering a line with Michal Handzus and Branko Radivojevic. Because of his age, Potulny is ineligible to play for the Phantoms this season, so the Flyers gave him a locker stall next to Petr Nedved and Peter Forsberg, a pair of players who have combined to score more than 500 NHL goals.

"It's pretty crazy," said Potulny, a third-round pick of the Flyers in 2003. "It's unbelievable walking in here and meeting these guys. I was so nervous. I was just trying to stay out of everybody's way and they came up and introduced themselves and shook my hand, and that helped ease my tensions a little bit."

In 100 games over three seasons at Minnesota, Potulny registered 68 goals and 50 assists for 118 points. Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock was impressed with what he saw from Potulny Wednesday and said he wouldn't hesitate to use him down the stretch or in the playoffs.

"I don't see why not, if he looks like he's going to help us," Hitchcock said. "He wouldn't be the first guy to come out of college and be a good player. The puck follows him around the rink. You don't score 40 goals in college and have the numbers he's had in the last three years just by accident. He's got a gift around the net and we saw some of that today. . . . I gotta tell you, he looks like a very, very smart, skilled player and you can't have enough of those."

By signing with the Flyers, Potulny will forgo his senior year at Minnesota, where he majored in Recreation and Leisure. He said his only regret is not winning a championship, something his older brother, Grant, accomplished in 2002 and 2003 before signing with the Binghamton Senators of the AHL. As for playing for the Flyers this season, Potulny said stranger things have happened.

"You never know, there's a chance," he said. "It's just fun to be here and be around these guys. I'll work hard and do whatever I have to do for the team."

Loose pucks: LW Simon Gagne (upper body injury), C Petr Nedved (lower body injury) and Brian Savage (personal reasons) were given the day off Thursday but are expected back on the ice today. Hitchcock said he'll decide today on his goaltender for Saturday's game against the New Jersey Devils. He said earlier in the week he will split his goalies for the weekend games against the Devils and Islanders.