Keith Don't Go

RoncortesphotoTim Panaccio has written the most alluring lede of the hockey season:

He wasn't just skating. He was going full bore.

He wasn't avoiding contact. He was hitting people.

And he wasn't making small talk. He was scolding his teammates for sloppy practice habits.

After sitting since October, Captain Keith Primeau was back on the ice yesterday at the Flyers practice, testing whether his post-concussion syndrome can take the bruising intensity required for playoff hockey.

The heart has to jump in any Flyers fan who remembers his Atlas act from two years ago, when he led the team through the playoffs by sheer will.  Primeau will know a lot by this hour, when he has awakened and searched for any symptoms that would tell him whether this is too much too soon, and that he should sit for the rest off the season, as planned. "An outside chance," is a far as the Flyers trainer was willing to go yesterday.

Flyers blogger Matt Grochowski was one of those caught by the thought of Primeau in orange and black this spring. And then he thought better of it.

Keith, No! he headlines his post:

Let me remind you of a warm Friday night in late May in 2000. It was game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals and the concussed laden Eric Lindros laid motionless just inside the Devils blue line. Remember how that Scott Stevens’ hit changed lives and organizational directions? Even though I was sick when Rod Brind’Amour was traded for Primeau, I do not wish a similar fate on the last great Philadelphia Captain. Funny, I can’t believe I just said that.

This last statement maybe true because their hasn’t been a Flyer, or a Phillie, or Sixer, or even an Eagle who epitomized what we look for in a leader in a sports environment, or even in real life, in a long time and in some cases, ever. Without this sounding like an obituary, Captain Keith has the ability to wear a multitude of faces ranging from buffer to game changer. I have not seen anything like it in a long time and I want to see it in the future. This is why I’m asking Primeau not to play in this year’s playoffs.

Many-a-night, I watch the video clips of game 6 on the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals on, and the 53.2 seconds of glory when Primeau tied the game, with an acrobatic feat, still brings me chills. On that occasion, and on the game winner in overtime, the line that brought that joy consisted of Jeremy Roenick, Simon Gagne, and Primeu; something old, something new, and something true. I want to witness this again. But this has a price, and that price is to wait until September. I know this maybe tough, and the Flyers do need a jump, but we’re going to have to wait.

I still believe that the Orange & Black are masters of their own future, as we all are, and that the whole thing is wide open. There is still a lot of games to play, hopefully the Flyers will find themselves, they’ll just have to do it without Captain Keith.

Posted 04/11/2006 10:47:42 AM

Yeah, sit out, Keith. You're endangering yourself and this team. We dont need a guy with two years worth of rust on him taking a roster spot. And how do we know we'll get the 2004 Keith Primeau and not the 2003 and 2003 Keith Primeau?

Joe Bruno
Posted 04/11/2006 10:50:28 AM

I have mixed emotions about Primeau's possible return as well. The big question here is he going to be 100% healthy in Sept. I doubt it. The next big hit can end it for good. So what difference does it make if it's now or Sept. There are no Scott Stevens in this year's playoffs and Primeau is not as stupid as Lindros. I say if he's cleared we need him. Or give the "C" to Richards...he's next in line and we all know it.

Posted 04/11/2006 11:24:06 AM

Flyers center situation is desperate but not at the cost of Kieth's future be it on the ice or elsewhere in Hockey. I see an attempt to pump some spirit into the Flyers and even though I am a Flyer Fan since 1967 it is too little too late. Clarke and Hitch along with the defensive moves in the off season are from the age of the Dinosaur and yes the Progressive commercial is right cavemen are still with us and they are on the Flyers backline. Desjardain,Rathje and Hatcher.

Posted 04/11/2006 11:37:52 AM

If he is cleared to play and wants to do so, what is the difference whether it is now, or in September? If Lindros had sat out those playoffs and waited to play the next season, would he not still have been just as vulnerable to a hit like the Stevns hit at that point? Either way Preems may be one huge hit away from being damaged are a lot of other NHL player for that matter.... I would argue that he might as well come back and take that same risk when the games are extremely meaningful rather than during a less meanging fulm regualr season games.

Posted 04/11/2006 11:55:26 AM

Keith, I love what you want to do, and everybody knows the Captain now doesnt know how to steer the ship. But I dont want see you 15 years from now as a vegatable, take a seat. We all know your heart, we just want your head right. Be an assistant, yell at them anyway, but dont risk it.

Posted 04/11/2006 01:10:51 PM

Keith Primeau is Philadelphia. He plays hard every game in any role he is asked to play in. He is the best captian this team has had in a long time. The things he did in the 2004 playoffs were simply amazing. I think if he is cleared to play, then we should welcome him back, give him the C, and cheer him on. If he takes a big hit and goes out again, then at least he knows he went down fighting. This is Philly, not Pheonix or Atlanta, we work hard right till the end and we go down swinging. Prims is exactly what this team needs right now. Even if its only for one game.

Ghosts of Eric Lindros
Posted 04/11/2006 01:43:38 PM

Let's not be short sighted, Primeau is exactly what this team needs right now. Primeau is a leader, something Eric Lindros was not. No one except for Hitch holds the players accountable. This team needs a player to hold players accountable and lead by example - remember the last playoffs? We ask why lose to Toronto, Devils and Rangers when they must win those games and its because their is no accountability. They win on shear talent and that is not enough. Hatcher plays tough every night, but he is not a leader since he only holds himself accountable. This team has much more talent then the team from 2003-04, but cannot get it together consistently. They will not get past the first round this year without someone who can win big face-offs, play solid defense, chip in a few goals and set the tone early on. Each team that has won a cup had a guy like Primeau, this team does not a guy like that right now, its like a missing piece. Let him play only if its not life threatening...we need him.

Posted 04/11/2006 03:44:07 PM

Just what we need. Another lumbering slow Center. But this time Primeau will have two year's of rust on him. What will everyone do if Keith Primeau plays the same way he did the other four playoffs he was here? Keith Primeau is done. Retire now and stop making the team about yourself, keith.

Posted 04/11/2006 04:04:47 PM

Comparing Keith Primeau to anyone in the current (or mid 90s forward) lineup is ludicrous. He is the toughest, most useful team player we've had in 15 years (with the possible exception of Brindy, but I still think Preems is tougher). His iron will to get back out on the ice at the Skate Zone is precisely what is missing on this team right now. He'll invigorate the whole roster, and he'll give the promising young guys a reason to keep pushing. Without his leadership, on the ice and off, we're doomed to a 1st round exit and everybody who's watched the team for the past 15 years (or more) knows it.

Posted 04/11/2006 04:08:42 PM

Hey Chris, How great was that Primeau leadership in 2002 when the teamed scored 2 goals in 5 games? How great was that Primeau leadership when he then blamed everything on the coach - a guy who just happened to sacrifice spending time with his wife during her last days on Earth ? How great was Primeau's leadership when they folded like a tent to Ottawa in 2003? People have got to get over this guy. He had ONE good playoff run and even during that he was terrible in the road games. He don't need him this year. If he's the answer then the team is sunk anyway.

Prime Lover
Posted 04/11/2006 06:28:36 PM

Listen, He is the backbone of this squad, if we want the title we could really use the real captain...

Prime Lover
Posted 04/11/2006 07:28:27 PM You also have to remember that Lindros didn't come back until that series...the Flyers were winning that series until he came back. Primes presence on the ice itself would be a much needed boost to this squad...If he is cleared, I highly doubt he wouldn't play.

Posted 04/11/2006 08:19:09 PM

Joe, don't get me wrong. I miss Roenick and Timander and Markov and all the guys that added some spark and solid play to the 03-04 playoffs. I hate the fact that we couldn't hold on to future Cup winners Fedotenko and Prospal. But I think Primeau found something in his game that year; he came into his own as a true Captain. Maybe it was Hitch that brought it out of him. Blame that SOB Holik for the hit that started this mess.

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