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April 21, 2006 - Primeau still hopes to return

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Primeau still hopes to return
 
Friday, April 21, 2006

By CHUCK GORMLEY
Courier-Post Staff

VOORHEES

When the Flyers boarded their charter flight to Buffalo Friday afternoon for tonight's Stanley Cup playoff opener against the Sabres, the hopes and dreams of a long playoff journey went with them.

So did team captain Keith Primeau.

In a surprising development, Primeau will skate with the Flyers during their first-round playoff series with the hopes of returning to the team, perhaps in the second round.

"Personally, it's exciting," said Primeau, who has been sidelined since October with a concussion. "Every hurdle is another step closer to a full recovery."

Primeau estimated he is at about 85 percent and that on some days he feels 90 percent. He is still experiencing inconsistency with his vision and some light-headedness when he over-exerts himself on the ice.

When asked if he needs to be absolutely 100 percent to insert himself in a playoff game, Primeau hedged.

"What is 100 percent?" he asked. "Is 100 percent next week? Next month? . . . I'm working toward a goal. The goal is to get back. But I don't know when that day is."

Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said that day will not come in the next two weeks.

"He's tying to play hockey, but he's certainly not a player in this series," Hitchcock said. "He's just moving ahead. He's our captain and he's trying to lend support."

Primeau knows that if he is feeling the itch to play now, that desire will be even stronger if the Flyers can get past the Sabres and into the second round of the playoffs two weeks from now.

But before he could even board the team's flight to Buffalo on Friday -- his previous two flights in January and February brought on symptoms that lasted three days -- Primeau first needed clearance from team doctor Gary Dorshimer. Getting clearance from an entire team of doctors to play in a playoff game, he said, would be a much bigger challenge.

"They're all excited for me," Primeau said. "I don't think it's fair to say that any one of them aren't nervous about how I'm approaching this. They're used to treating people who suffer concussions while skiing and go back to desk jobs. They're not used to dealing with people whose job is full contact." Chuck Gormley at cgormley@courierpostonline.com