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Primeau opts to donate brain for medical research

Friday, 04.03.2009 / 11:02 AM / News

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Keith Primeau is planning to leave quite the legacy when his number is eventually called.

Primeau will reveal Friday night on Rogers Sportsnet that when he dies his brain will be donated to the Sports Legacy Institute in Massachusetts, an institution that is dedicated to studying the effects of concussions and other sports related brain injuries.

Primeau, who is 37, had his career cut short due to concussions.

The former NHLer, who played for Detroit, Hartford/Carolina and Philadelphia, is hoping to aid the research regarding head injuries and help others avoid the terrible bouts with pain he suffered as a hockey player by providing a tool for a scientific experiment.

"I think the beginning of my demise goes back to the playoff situation back in 2000," Primeau told reporter Arash Madani, whose interview will air on Hockeycentral Leafs Edition. "I got laid out at center ice and got carried off on a stretcher. I stayed overnight in a Pittsburgh hospital, only to return two nights later against New Jersey. And, that was ultimately the beginning of my demise."

Primeau's career came to a screeching halt when he was 34 years old after four separate concussions. His first came in 2003-04 and it forced him to miss 21 games. He had two more head injuries in the playoffs that year, but still played in 18 postseason games and was a force in helping the Flyers reach the Eastern Conference Final.

He sat out the lockout season, choosing to rest instead of play anywhere overseas or in another League in North America. Primeau returned to the Flyers for the 2005-06 season, but nine games in got popped by Montreal's Alexander Perezhogin and missed the rest of the season.

He retired the following September and now serves as an assistant coach for a New Jersey-based high school hockey team.

"It really appeared in our time together that his sincere hope is to raise awareness about head injuries and their consequences," Madani said. "He hopes that with the donation of his brain, future generations can learn of the unknown from head trauma and live a better life."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com.

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