Tim 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 BrindAmour was traded for Primeau, I do not wish a similar fate on the last great Philadelphia Captain. Funny, I cant believe I just said that.
This last statement maybe true because their hasnt 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 Im asking Primeau not to play in this years playoffs.
Many-a-night, I watch the video clips of game 6 on the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals on PhiladelphiaFlyers.com, 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 were 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, theyll just have to do it without Captain Keith.