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April 22, 2006 - Miracle on ice

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Miracle on ice


By WAYNE FISH
Bucks County Courier Times

VOORHEES — Keith Primeau flew to Buffalo on Friday and it wasn't to see a doctor.

The message here is that the Flyers captain-in-limbo has attempted another big step in his quest for an improbable comeback.

This is the first time Primeau took to the skies for something other than trips to Carolina (December) and Toronto (February) to visit specialists.

In other words, things appear to be getting serious.

One day after dressing in the Phantoms locker room down the hall, Primeau's nameplate was back up over his locker with the Flyers on Friday.

Primeau, who still experiences some post-concussion symptoms, was in a jovial mood, swapping one-liners with reporters and laughing out loud, something not heard since October.

Later he caught the team charter jet.

While he certainly won't be playing in the opener of the Stanley Cup conference quarterfinal series which begins tonight in Buffalo, Primeau is making it clear he wants to play and, symptoms allowing, at some point will.

“For me, personally, it's been exciting that I can start practicing with the guys,'' he said. “To be around more with the guys, to get on a plane. Because every step, every hurdle is another step closer to a full recovery.

“To what seems like a menial task (flying) or something that people take for granted . . . it makes my wife nervous but it makes me excited.''

Primeau is anxious to find out this morning how his body reacts to Friday's flight. He said the trips to Carolina and Toronto caused setbacks which lasted several days.

“I can't say I'm not a little nervous but I try not to think about it. I'm just looking at it as another step in the healing process.''

Would he be trying this if the playoffs weren't looming?

“Probably not. It gives me something to work for. It goes back three weeks ago, it was a decision either to rest and wait for September or push myself with no guarantees how it would come out.

“I feel better about myself doing it that way. I'm working toward a goal of getting back but I don't know when that day is.''

Primeau says he's about 85 percent. He doesn't know if he needs to be a hundred percent to return to hockey.

“All winter long I thought about it but my head would not let me do this. Anytime I would try to muster energy, my head would tell me to slow down. Now I feel like I can fight those thoughts a little bit.''

The 34-year-old center said Friday that a month ago there was “no chance'' he could entertain such notions of returning.

“Although I was seeing some improvement, I wasn't seeing it quick enough.''

Coach Ken Hitchcock is taking a cautious approach.

“He's trying to play hockey but he's certainly not a player in this series,'' he said. “He's moving ahead, nothing to read in it. He's our captain and he's going to try to lend support.''

Primeau had to get medical clearance from team doctor Gary Dorshimer to make the trip.