Sep 14, 2009, 9:00 AM EDT
Keith Primeau was doing his damnedest to return from a series of concussions in the 2006 off-season–most notably, one delivered by Montreal's Alexander Perzhogin the previous October–when team trainer Jim McCrossin told him that while he could participate in skate and practice drills with a minor league affiliate, he would never be cleared to play professional hockey again. Not feeling like hanging around and either gathering dust or distracting the young'uns, the Captain decided to go out gracefully. Primeau officially announced his retirement on September 14th, 2006.
"I'm sorry I couldn't overcome this injury and dragged this out as long as I did," lamented Primeau. "I did it all with the best of intentions and with the thought of returning home and playing in front of 20,000 screaming fans." Instead, Primeau removed himself from the ice, and was next honored by the team the following February, during a special ceremony before a game against the Detroit Red Wings–the team that initially drafted him. Meanwhile, the C previously belonging to Primeau was awarded to new franchise player Peter Forsberg, who presided (occasionally in absentia) over one of the more dismal stretches in Flyers history.
Primeau was beloved by fans for many reasons, perhaps none greater than his playoff performances in 2000, where he scored the winning goal in game four of the Eastern Conference Semis against Pittsburgh in the longest game in modern NHL history, and in 2004, where he nearly single-handedly powered the Flyers to the finals with his nine goals and seven assists. He was a two-time all-star and a six-year captain for the Flyers.
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