Voorhees, NJ – With the uncertainty of Keith Primeau's health, the Flyers have named defenseman Derian Hatcher the 14th captain in franchise history. Hatcher, who was signed as a free agent by the club this summer, will wear the "C" until Primeau returns from his concussion.
Ken Hitchcock and Bob Clarke met with Primeau on Sunday morning at the Sovereign Bank Flyers Skate Zone.
"Clarkie and Hitch pulled me into Clarkie's office, and said that the team is kind of a lost ship at sea right now and kind of floundering and we need some direction," said Primeau. "As good as the guys have been to find ways to win hockey games, right now we're at a tough patch and we need that direction.
"Without knowing what my status is and my availability, we need direction now. I agreed, and temporarily they are going to pass the captaincy to Derian Hatcher and make Sami Kapanen and Simon Gagne permanent assistants, and I'm okay with that."
Hatcher has experience with being a captain under Hitchcock. He was the captain of the Dallas Stars team in 1999, which was led by Hitchcock to the Stanley Cup.
"I think that working with Hitch before and being the captain in Dallas, I can definitely bring some of that [experience]," said Hatcher. "It wasn't always good times. There were bad times and a lot of good times. Hopefully I can bring some of that here, and just maybe help the guys with Hitch a little more."
Primeau has been out of the lineup since late October, but the team still flourished without him and continues to lead the Atlantic Division with 68 points. Lately, however, the team has not performed nearly as well and the Flyers have lost six of eight games, which apparently helped lead to the move.
"I think that one of Hitch's biggest concerns was just needing a voice in the room," said Hatcher. "The voice in the room that [says] the way we're supposed to be playing and the system we're supposed to be playing, and to hold guys accountable to the team."
Giving up the captaincy, although he will get it back when and if he returns, was not easy for Primeau. Still, it is obvious that he is looking out for the best interests of the team.
"The team is more important than my pride at this time. It's the right decision," said Primeau.