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April 27, 2006 - Primeau to fight through latest symptoms

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Primeau to fight through latest symptoms
Thursday, April 27, 2006


The saga of "Keith Primeau: Captain Courageous" took yet another turn on Wednesday when the Flyers' 34-year-old center said the return of concussion symptoms will not keep him from continuing his comeback attempt.

"I have a slight headache, still," Primeau said. "It has been two days since I took a hit in practice, so I don't feel well enough to go on the ice today.

"It is a minor setback. It's not the end of the world. I'm not right back to where I started. I felt it a bit and now I have to plow through it."

Primeau had been cleared by Flyers doctors to begin some contact drills, but when he was jolted in a one-on-one battle on Monday, he began experiencing headaches that lasted through the night.

"I still feel the way I did a couple days ago other than the fact the contact affected me a little bit," Primeau said. "That's not good, but I still feel like I'm close and I'm going to keep working to feel closer."

Before Wednesday night's game, Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock ruled out the possibility of having Primeau for Game 3 or Friday night's Game 4 at the Wachovia Center.

"He's not playing," Hitchcock said. "He got hit (Monday) and he had concussion symptoms again, so he's out. We don't know until he feels better whether he's going to come back or not, but he's certainly not playing Wednesday or Friday, that's for sure."

Since Primeau did not skate on Wednesday, Flyers athletic trainer Jim McCrossin said it is highly unlikely he will return during the Flyers' first-round series against the Sabres. As recently as Sunday, there was hope Primeau might return during the first round, which is why he was so disappointed when he felt symptoms Monday night through Tuesday.

"I can't say I wasn't upset (Tuesday) because I really felt there was an opportunity for me to go forward and it didn't happen. I got over my self-pity and regrouped and will just keep going."

Like Primeau, McCrossin said the big center's setback does not rule out his eventual return if the Flyers can pull off a miraculous comeback and advance to the second round.

"He is still progressing," McCrossin said. "Just because he had a setback we know about, he's still progressing. I talked to Keith (Tuesday) night. We've made good strides in his conditioning and his speed and his agility.

"I'd hate to stop everything. That would be ridiculous. Everybody knows he's only played nine games in the last two years and he needs conditioning. It's going to take a while to get him there."

Primeau was angered by assertions -- some of them in print -- that his attempted comeback has become a distraction to the Flyers, who fell behind in the series with consecutive losses in Buffalo.

"Apparently, I've become a distraction," Primeau said. "That is not my doing and it is not the organization's doing. I made it open and clear that if I become a distraction, I will back right away and start skating alone again. It's not me and it's not the team, so I guess we know where the blame lies. So I'll have to discuss it with the team as far as my course of action.

"I can't explain this any more clearly: My goal is to come back. It has not changed from the start. Whether it is Day 1 of Series 1, or Series 2, 3 or 4, or next September, I don't know. My focus is getting back in the lineup. That has not changed. If that means it's the next series, it is the next series. I've been trying to get you to understand there is no timeframe for this. No one in the organization is pressuring me to do this. . . . I am preparing myself to get ready and hope we can find ways to win games. And maybe I will get the opportunity to play."

Loose pucks: Flyers rookie left wing R.J. Umberger passed his neuropsychological test on Wednesday and returned to the lineup after missing one game with concussion symptoms. Umberger was leveled by Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell in the first overtime period of Game 1.

Umberger returned to his spot on a line with center Jeff Carter and right wing Niko Dimitrakos.

With Umberger back in the lineup, Hitchcock pulled rookie winger Ben Eager out. He also kept left wing Donald Brashear out of the lineup in favor of Branko Radivojevic, who played right wing on an all-European line with center Petr Nedved and Michal Handzus. The Flyers' fourth line consisted of Mike Richards between right wing Sami Kapanen and left wing Brian Savage.