Keith Primeau was a special player. He was drafted third overall in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft by the Detroit Red Wings during a special time in the NHL. He had trouble getting the ice time he wanted in Detroit and was traded to the Hartford Whalers in 1996.
He became an immediate leader, and it didn’t take long until he was captain, as the team had just moved to North Carolina to become the Carolina Hurricanes. Primeau only played as a Hurricane for two seasons before getting traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. In his first full season with the Flyers, in 2001-02, Primeau led the teams in goals (34) and tied his career-high in points (73).
Primeau was great at scoring goals and helpers, but his main asset was his physical play. Primeau was huge and played two-way to near perfection. He played aggressive, hard hockey, and few forwards have been as good at both ends as Primeau. And he wasn’t scared of anyone.
One of his most classic moments in the NHL was during his early years in Detroit when he fought Bob Probert in practice. Probert was one of the most feared players in the NHL, and if he felt something was wrong, he took care of business. Not many had the guts to answer the bell, but Primeau was one of them.
When Primeau joined the Cam & Strick Podcast last year, he talked about the incident and what led up to the fight.
”It was early in my career and I was trying to make a mark. We played a neutral side game in Minnesota the night before. I set up two goals, and on neither of them, I got an assist,” he said.
Primeau said he hates when players aren’t awarded points when they did help out on a goal, and how different it is today. Back then, it wasn’t as easy, as games are reviewed a lot more today.
”I was trying to get the points that I deserved,” he said.
The next day, during practice, someone announced in the PA system that Primeau had gotten an assist added to the goals as a prank by Shawn Burr.
”It pissed me off, so I started shooting pucks at Shawn Burr. We skated around before practice, and I just shot at him. And I don’t know, but maybe I hit one at Probie, and he didn’t take my side against Burr.
”So Probie came over and hit me, and said stop. We just dropped the gloves and went at it. Afterward, it was fine. Probie was a great guy. He was always good to me. But sometimes, tempers flare, and I thought a few teammates on practice.”
Primeau also said he enjoyed playing on the team with players like Bob Probert and Joey Kocur and how safe it made him feel. Bob Probert also talked about the incident in his book. He said that Primeau was angry over not getting the points, so he and Probert just went at it to get it out of the system. It was no hard feelings. Talk about some real old-school hockey!
See the video here: