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April 23, 2006 - Primeau cautiously working way back

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Primeau cautiously working way back
Special to The News Journal

BUFFALO -- Talk to Flyers captain Keith Primeau and you see rays of sunlight streaming over his broad shoulders. Talk to Flyers head athletic trainer Jim McCrossin and you see a daunting shadow.

For every step Primeau takes in his recovery from post-concussion syndrome, McCrossin is tightening the harness, making sure the 6-foot-5, 230-pound center does not let the excitement of the Stanley Cup playoffs cloud his vision.

"I feel pretty good today, " Primeau said after skating with his teammates Saturday morning at HSBC Arena. "As much as it's been hit-or-miss the last week, on the ice I'm having more good days than bad.

"It's an uphill battle to have any semblance of conditioning and push the envelope as best I can without pushing over the edge. The good days I'll take, and today was a good day. "

Primeau is not expected to be medically cleared during the Flyers' first-round playoff series against the Buffalo Sabres. But if he can convince McCrossin and team doctor Gary Dorshimer that his symptoms are not a threat to his health, he could theoretically play in the second round.

McCrossin said he's been encouraged by Primeau's progress in the last three weeks. But he knows the danger Primeau might be putting himself in by returning while still experiencing even the slightest symptoms. Primeau said he could suffer a stroke if he is struck in the head while still experiencing symptoms.

"I told Keith before, that the No. 1 thing is his health," McCrossin said. "The team is not going to put somebody back in and jeopardize his health. I have to face Lisa [Primeau's wife] if, God forbid, something happens. I wouldn't want to do that. Or his [four] kids."

Primeau, 34, was curious to see how he'd feel after flying for the first time in two months. On his two previous flights, the plane's cabin pressure caused headaches that lasted three days. Primeau said he felt much better Saturday morning than he had after his flights to North Carolina and Toronto.

"I woke up and there was a little bit of pressure, but I think it was more due to dehydration than anything," Primeau said. "If I can hydrate myself, that will rectify itself."

McCrossin said Primeau still has trouble "locking in " on objects while working out, but is encouraged that those vision problems subsided quickly.

On the ice, Primeau still experiences some light-headedness and said he needs to differentiate concussion symptoms from conditioning symptoms.

Primeau said he will continue skating with the team throughout the playoffs, pushing himself a little more each day.