Flyers C Primeau announces retirement

VOORHEES, New Jersey (Ticker) - Keith Primeau left no stone unturned in his desire to play again for the Philadelphia Flyers. But it will not happen.

The former captain and emotional leader of the Flyers announced his retirement on Thursday because of continuing concussion symptoms.

Primeau trained furiously in recent months with hopes of returning to the team but was not given clearance to start training camp, which began Thursday.

“This was very difficult for me to accept,” Primeau said at a morning news conference. “I discussed it with family and friends before making the decision to retire from the game that I love.”

Primeau met with medical people in the United States and Canada in recent months and received treatment, but the concussion symptoms persisted.

“We tried everything conventional and avant-garde,” Flyers team physician Dr. Gary Dorshimer said. “But when you still have symptoms with exertion, you can’t be cleared to play.”

The 34-year-old Primeau has battled concussion problems over the last several seasons, with his most recent incident occurring in Montreal on October 25, when he absorbed a blow to the head from Canadiens rookie Alexander Perezhogin.

Primeau managed to play in only two more games before going on injured reserve with post-concussion syndrome. His captaincy eventually given to defenseman Derian Hatcher and he announced in February that he was hanging up his skates for the season.

Now he has decided to hang them up for good.

“The concussions had a cumulative effect,” Primeau said. “When I look back, I thought the right thing to do was to play through a concussion. If I knew then what I know now, I would have done things differently.”

Primeau missed 28 games of the 2003-04 season after suffering a concussion, yet still helped the Flyers reach the Eastern Conference finals, practically carrying the team on his back before it lost in seven games to Tampa Bay.

The retirement of Primeau clears about $3 million off the salary cap for the Flyers, who attempted to replace him by signing restricted free agent center Ryan Kesler to a one-year offer sheet worth a reported $1.9 million on Tuesday. The Vancouver Canucks blocked the deal, however, re-signing Kesler on Thursday.

Primeau, who spent the last six years with the Flyers, recorded 266 goals and 353 assists in 909 career games. He had one goal and six assists in nine games last season.

The 6-5, 225-pound Primeau entered the league as the third overall pick of Detroit in 1990 and also spent time with Carolina. His best season came in 2000-01, when he had 34 goals and 73 points in 71 games for the Flyers.

Two on-ice moments for which Primeau will best be remembered are his fight with brother Wayne Primeau early in their careers and his winning goal in the fifth overtime of Game Four of the 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals against Pittsburgh.

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Updated Thursday, Sep 14, 2006