The Philadelphia Flyers are hosting a "retirement party" for Keith Primeau when the Flyers host the Detroit Red Wings. The choice of opponent is no coincidence - Primeau is best known as a Flyer but to many he is a Red Wing as well.
“I have such great memories of playing for the Flyers,” Primeau said. “The fans are like no other and I am proud to have played for them and the city for six years. I'd like to thank Ed Snider and the entire organization for planning this night.”
I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Keith Primeau. In his draft year I hummed and hawed as to who my Vancouver Canucks should take with the 2nd overall pick. I couldn't decide between Petr Nedved and Primeau. I watched Primeau struggle in his early years in Detroit, and always felt he could be bringing more to the game. Much like a 1960s Leafs fan watching Frank Mahovlich, no matter what Primeau did, it was not good enough for me.
After holding out from Detroit following the Red Wings signing of Igor Larionov, Primeau and Paul Coffey were traded to my secret favorite team, the Hartford Whalers, in exchange for Brendan Shanahan. Though I loved the Whale jersey, I never got to watch them play. I missed Primeau's transformation into an elite leader with the Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes.
Another holdout in 1999 led to Primeau's trading to the Flyers in exchange for Rod Brind'Amour. Sometimes you can tell alot about a player by the players they were traded for. Being traded for Brendan Shanahan and Rod Brind'Amour speaks volumes about just how good Primeau was.
Fortunately, my lasting image of Primeau will be the 2004 playoffs when the Flyers captain literally willed his Flyers deep into the playoffs. He scored 9 goals and 16 points, but it was his sheer determination that brought the team to within one victory of a Stanley Cup finals appearance. I truly wanted the Flyers to win that year because of Primeau's incredible performance. He so impressed me in those playoffs that I was finally a Primeau fan for life.
The other memory I'll always have is of Primeau's dramatic overtime goal against Pittsburgh's Ron Tugnutt on May 4th/5th, 2000. The lazer like shot in the 5th overtime period ended the third longest game in NHL history,
As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, Primeau still suffers from concussion related effects.
"I still have problems," he said yesterday during a conference call with reporters. "The most severe symptoms are the head pressure and headaches. Flying is a problem for me. I've flown home to Toronto a few times with little effect, but whenever I take a longer flight... that has really put me on my heels."