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April 15, 2006 - No Primeau comeback

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No Primeau comeback
 
Saturday, April 15, 2006

By CHUCK GORMLEY
Courier-Post Staff

PHILADELPHIA

Keith Primeau's comeback attempt from post-concussion syndrome appears to be over.

Still bothered by head pressure and vision problems, Primeau said Friday that he's giving up his attempt to return to the Flyers for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

"It's just too dangerous," Primeau said. "Besides that, when I took on this challenge, I promised my family I wouldn't play unless I was a hundred percent. I just don't think I'm capable of a hundred percent. I'm aware of it and if I'm aware of it, it's just not right."

Primeau, 34, has not played since removing himself from the lineup on Oct. 28 with concussion symptoms.

After nearly two months of skating on his own with minimal symptoms, Primeau talked the Flyers' training staff and doctors into allowing him to practice with the Flyers on Tuesday.

He followed up with practices on Wednesday and Thursday, hoping his symptoms would diminish enough to allow him to play in the playoffs. But on Friday Primeau's symptoms returned and his optimism waned.

Flyers athletic trainer Jim McCrossin said there is still a miniscule chance that Primeau becomes symptom free during the playoffs, but said it would not be wise for the Flyers' medical staff to clear him for full contact.

"Keith is progressing and progressing well," McCrossin said. "But to play at the level he needs to play, I'd say not yet.

"To be fair to our medical staff and to be fair to Keith, if he has symptoms he can't come back to play."

McCrossin said he could lose his athletic trainer's license if he allowed Primeau to expose himself to further head trauma. But he did not completely close the door on Primeau playing again this spring.

"There's always a chance. Whether it's one in a hundred, one in a thousand or one in 500,000, I don't want to take that chance away from Keith."

In other injury news, McCrossin said defenseman Kim Johnsson is still experiencing nausea after workouts and he is unlikely to return for the playoffs.

Goaltender shuffle: Goaltender Robert Esche will get the start in goal for the Flyers today, his sixth in seven games.

Esche stopped Jaromir Jagr 12 times in his last start against the Rangers, a 3-2 overtime loss in New York.

"Whenever you stop a guy like that it gives you confidence," Esche said. "I knew after I made the first glove save on him it was going to be my night."

Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said Antero Niittymaki will start Sunday's game at the Meadowlands against the Devils. Niittymaki has lost his last three starts.

Add it up and Esche has earned the right to start in goal for the Flyers when the playoffs begin next week.