The Flyers center, sidelined with a concussion since the end of October, took part in a full practice with his teammates on Monday at the Sovereign Bank Flyers Skate Zone. He emphasized after the skate that he still has no plans to return for the playoffs and will be back in September at the earliest.
Still, it was a pleasant and welcome surprise for everyone.
"We've seen him get better inside the room, and I didn't know he was going to practice," said Mike Knuble. "It's a positive sign and I don't know what his future holds, but it's a great thing. We're happy for him as a person and for his family that he's coming back and feeling well and is well enough to be on the ice."
Primeau took part in the penalty-killing portion of practice early, and then stayed on the ice in a red jersey with Turner Stevenson and Branko Radivojevic. By the way he was skating, it would be hard to tell that he hasn't played a game in over five months.
His presence alone helped the pace of the skate.
"He's pushing the guys hard and if you don't make the right play in practice then he comes after you," said Sami Kapanen. "He really demands the high quality in practice and he's always pushing it hard and wants to lead by example. You could see today; he was flying up and down the ice and it makes everybody else work that much harder too."
"Work ethic is one of his biggest strong suits. Him demanding a lot of other players is another thing he does well," said Knuble. "I haven't played with him that much but I feel like he's the type of guy that puts guys on edge a bit, and that's good. Maybe it's something we need."
Primeau announced in late February that he would sit out the remainder of the season due to the lingering effects of his concussion. He reiterated that point after practice.
"I'm not going back on the comments I made the last time this started and the comments I made in my press conference," he said. "My head will have to feel a lot better than it did today when I was out there. My legs and my conditioning felt somewhat decent, but my head still felt like it was about a foot behind."
Despite those symptoms, the fact that he is able to participate with his teammates is as good for him mentally as it is physically.
"It's kind of eased my mind because I go away from the rink feeling better about myself because I'm able to do something, and that's a huge part of it," said Primeau.
Ken Hitchcock also stressed that just because he skated with the team for one practice does not mean he will return this season for the playoffs.
"He skated with us for one hockey practice and he enjoyed himself out there. It was good to have him back on the ice, but this is light years away from playing competitive ice hockey," said Hitchcock.
Forsberg Doubtful, Nedved Probable for Tuesday
Peter Forsberg said he will probably miss for Tuesday's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7:00 p.m., OLN), as he recovers from a groin injury.
"It's getting better every day. Very doubtful for [Tuesday], but it's better and it should be healed up in not too long," said Forsberg.
Hitchcock said he is anticipating the return of Petr Nedved, who has also been nursing a groin injury, on Tuesday.
Gauthier Suspended for Two Games
The Flyers will be without Denis Gauthier on Tuesday as well as Thursday in New Jersey. The NHL suspended Gauthier for two games on Monday for his hit on Kyle Wellwood in Saturday's game against Toronto.
"It's not going to change who I am or how I play," said Gauthier after finding out about the suspension. "I apologized to the guy right on the ice. I felt bad; it's not something I wanted to do. I'm going to keep playing my game. If I don't do that then I'm going home.
"I knew it was a dangerous hit. The guy was in a vulnerable position. I thought he was going to turn and he didn't, and I ended up closing on him."