Saturday, June 8, 2013

NHL Playoffs: Why Keith Primeau was one of the Philadelphia Flyers’ greatest captains

Overtime NHL playoff games (like the 6/8/13 Kings-Blackhawks' game) often remind me of one of my favorite hockey features. It was humbling when this piece received thousands of hits after it's 2011 online publication...

Former Philadelphia Flyers' captain Keith Primeau played with grit and gusto during his fifteen years in the National Hockey League.

Primeau dominated the ice before concussions caused his career to prematurely end when he was 34-years-old in 2006.
Wikimedia Commons
Like Pittsburgh Penguins' captain Sidney Crosby, he was also a victim of concussions. Hopefully one of the games currently great players won't have his career affected like Primeau's was.
Before head shots took their toll on his body, the Flyers behemoth had become one of the best red light players in the game.
Spring 2000
A contract dispute allowed Philadelphia to acquire Primeau from the Carolina Hurricanes for Rod Brind'Amour(notes) in January 2000.
He had two goals and eleven assists for the Flyers in the playoffs that spring. One of those goals came during one of hockey's all-time classic contests.
The Toronto, Ontario native's game-winner, in the fifth overtime period of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Penguins, enabled the Flyers to tie that series at two games each. The eight-period epic was one of the longest games in National Hockey League history.
The 28-year-old returned to produce a 34-goal, 39-assist season in 2000-2001.
Domination
The 6'5", 220-pounder had nine goals in 110 playoff games before the 2003-04 season.
Primeau played as though he was possessed during the 2004 playoffs, amassing nine goals and seven assists in eighteen kinetic games. But, those numbers hardly define how the rink appeared to tip towards him whenever his skates seared the ice.
Bilocation
Primeau scored two goals at home in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. His second caused the strongest release of Flyers' fan energy since Game 6 of the 1987 Stanley Cup Final against the Edmonton Oilers in the Philadelphia Spectrum.
With less than two minutes remaining in that 2004 playoff game, the Flyers captain seemed to bilocate.
First, he tipped the puck with his skate through the crease from Lightning goalie Nikolai Khabibulin's(notes) right side. Then, he went behind the net and reappeared at Khabibulins' left side. He received his own pass and knotted the game at 4-4 when he tapped a willing puck into the net with his wooden wand.
The resulting crowd reaction resembled a volcanic eruption of orange blood throughout the cratered arena.
Primeau and Jeremy Roenick(notes) both later touched an overtime puck that eventually went to Simon Gagne(notes). He scored the game-winning goal which forced the series to a seventh game in Tampa Bay.
Ice Rushmore
Flyers' captain's Bobby Clarke, Dave Poulin and Primeau all have their busts permanently carved into South Philadelphia's Ice Rushmore.

A likeness of the captain who will hoist the team's third Stanley Cup will eventually join them.
(This feature was originally published by Yahoo Sports on August 26, 2011.)
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My interviews with famous athletes and sports' personalities

Martin Brodeur: Discusses His Record-Setting Shutout Total and Key Rivalries 
Jaromir Jagr: Current NHL Forward and Future Hall of Famer
Philadelphia Flyers' Bernie Parent: Postgame reflections 
Bobby Clarke: Philadelphia Flyers' Legend Talks Hockey
Ron Hextall Recalls His Greatest Season
Kerry Fraser: NHL Referee is Still Making the Right Calls

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Amazon.com is the number 1 online publishing platform in the world. That's why I used it to publish my first ebook: 

I am humbled by the reception it has received to-date and I thank everyone who has been responding to this digital creation.

This mini-tome is a collection of stories and poems for readers who don't take themselves too seriously. I hope that you enjoy it and am always welcome to your feedback. 
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It only takes a few minutes to read any of the stories whose links are shown below:

Horror Story: It Was Crawling Up My Chest!
Television Haiku Poem
My First Car Was An All-Time Classic
The Best Holiday Memories

When Baseball Cards Were King
Could One Baseball Shatter The Summer?
The Night Lenny Dykstra Was Swinging In The Rain
5 Traits of Hardcore Philadelphia Phillies' Fans

Philadelphia Flyers' Topps Hockey Card Mystery Revealed
5 Lessons Flyers' Fans Have Taught The Hockey World
5 Traits Old School Flyers' Fans Possess
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