Ken Hitchcock sat in his office and for weeks watched the incumbent Captain of his new team walk quietly by his door. His Captain was a coach killer by his own admission http://www.usatoday.com/s...13-flyers-hitchcock_x.htm
. Primeau saw the writing on the wall. He was on his way out. A new coach cleaned players like him out to preserve their power base. Lucky for Primeau, Ken Hitchcock wasn’t on the short leash given to many new coaches. He was assured that he was the Flyer’s coach for the foreseeable future and any problems the franchise had would be addressed at the cost of the players and not the coaching staff. The coaching carousel in Philly had stopped. After another abysmal failure in the playoffs and his post season Brutus impersonation, Primeau didn’t have enough value to make moving him palatable. However, after asking around the club Ken Hitchcock decided that Primeau would be his captain going forward. A shrewd move by the incoming coach, he took advantage of a prominent player sporting self inflicted wounds. He needed a connection with the team and who better than the leader of the revolt. Primeau needed to repair his image and there would be no better way then becoming the go to player for a difficult coach. Hitchcock educated Primeau on what it took to be a leader and Primeau took advantage of it. This may have been the best decision of Primeau’s career in my opinion.
Primeau’s legend began that season with a strong regular season showing by both himself and the team. They fell short of the Atlantic Division title and beat Toronto in the first round only to fall again to the Senators. Primeau had one goal and one assist in 13 playoff games. He had 46 regular season points and would never again reach the totals he did with the Flyers under Bill Barber. However, Dropping to the third line in a check role suited Primeau. He became a defensive force.
The 2003-2004 Season would be the one Primeau would hang his hat on. Despite suffering s concussion during the regular season he came back to lead the Flyers to the conference finals scoring 9 goals and 16 points in 18 playoff games. By the middle of the Second round against Toronto, he was playing the most dominating hockey of his career. The Flyers lost in the Conference Finals against Tampa Bay in seven games. A great run that fell short. Nine games into the following season another concussion ended his career although he would continue to try to get back on the ice until the end of training camp in the 2006-2007 season.
Although his five overtime goal against the Penguins and his dominating run to the conference finals have become Flyer legends, it can never erase a career filled with ego and self interest. He made a bold attempt to resuscitate his reputation through what I feel was embarrassment and desperation but for those of us who have viewed his career as a whole and not just a few scattered snapshots of glory he will always be the player who turned his back on two franchises who relied on him, failed repeatedly in the playoffs and went too far in throwing his coach under the bus after failing to show up himself.