Primeau facing decision on future There was growing speculation that the injured Flyer would sit out at least the rest of the regular season.

Posted: February 07, 2006

Keith Primeau is not ready to give up hope of playing again this season, but the Flyers center admits that resignation day could come at any time.

Still feeling the effects of a concussion suffered on Oct. 28, Primeau was in Toronto yesterday to be examined by a specialist.

There was growing speculation that Primeau was on the verge of being put on injured reserve for the remainder of the regular season, and he said yesterday that sitting out might be his best option.

He said he had "been advised by the doctors that it may be in my best interests to forgo playing this year and continue my rehab in hopes of returning in September," Primeau said in a statement released on the Flyers' Web site. He said he told the Flyers "that I would let them know as soon as I have made a decision."

If Primeau is placed on injured reserve, it would save the Flyers about $2.77 million against the salary cap, allowing them to make an acquisition before the March 9 trading deadline.

However, Primeau, 34, was holding out hope for the last-gasp medical review, saying it might find "anything else that we may have missed."

Primeau planned to return from Toronto today or tomorrow.

"It's just a difficult decision, and I haven't set a day when I am going to make any formal announcement," he said. "I know that making the decision, though, is in the not-too-distant future."

Primeau could not be reached last night. His agent, Don Reynolds, did not return messages.

"It's sad, because all I want to do is play," Primeau said on the Web site. "Unfortunately, at this time, my head will just not allow me to play."

General manager Bob Clarke has said he would like to know Primeau's status by the time the Olympic break ends on Feb. 27.

A trade embargo will be in effect during the break, but once the embargo is lifted, the Flyers are expected to be involved in talks leading up to the trading deadline.

Clarke left yesterday for the NHL general managers' meetings in a Las Vegas suburb. He was preparing to discuss a matter that could weigh heavily on Primeau's postseason status.

Under the league's old collective-bargaining agreement, players on injured reserve were permitted to return for the playoffs. Peter Forsberg did that with Colorado in 2001-02, playing no regular-season games and returning for 20 playoff contests.

But that was before the league adopted the salary cap, which went into effect this season.

Paul Holmgren, the Flyers' assistant general manager, said last night that new restrictions on activating players for the playoffs were under review. They could be discussed at the general managers' meetings.

Injury updates. Two months after surgery to repair a dislocated right shoulder, Flyers defenseman Eric Desjardins will seek final approval today to return to action.

Desjardins said he would be reevaluated by team doctor Peter DeLuca. He hoped to begin play tomorrow night against the New York Islanders.

The Flyers have three games before the league shuts down for the Olympics.

"My job and my passion is to play hockey," Desjardins said. "If I'm ready to play, then why wait? That's the way I look at it."

Desjardins skated hard at practice yesterday along with Forsberg, who has missed the last five games with a strained left groin. The center also seemed on track to return against the Islanders.

Defenseman Mike Rathje, who left the Montreal game Sunday with a groin injury, will be reevaluated today. Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said that Rathje would not play tomorrow.

Also slated to sit out are defensemen Kim Johnsson (concussion symptoms) and Chris Therien (head injury).

Petr Nedved, who sat out Sunday's game with a groin strain, will practice today, Hitchcock said. The center's status for the Islanders game will be determined after practice.

Contact staff writer Rob Parent at 215-854-2938 or rparent@phillynews.com.

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