When Primeau speaks, players listen

Retired Flyers captain Keith Primeau (center) gives instructions to the Bishop Eustace ice hockey team. Primeau is in his third year as an assistant coach at Eustace.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Courier-Post Staff

When Keith Primeau speaks, he hopes the players on the Bishop Eustace Prep School ice hockey team listen.

It's not that Primeau, a former Flyers captain and two-time NHL All-Star, wants to flaunt his celebrity status.

It's more of a case of him feeling that he has some valuable knowledge about the game that he can pass on to younger players.

"I think the novelty has worn off a little bit now," said Primeau, who is now in his third season as an assistant on Mike Green's coaching staff. "When I first came out, (being a star player in the NHL) was more of an impact. But now I personally believe they look at me, not as a celebrity, but more of a coach."

That's just as Primeau wants things to be.

"I want them to listen and hear what I have to say because of my experience," he said. "But I don't want them to treat me any different than they would any other coach."

Green appreciates the effort that Primeau puts into the program, which ranks among the best in the state.

"He does a fabulous job not only teaching but teaching in an appropriate way," he said. "He's a great communicator. When he talks, they listen."

The Eustace players, many of whom recall Primeau as a two-time NHL All-Star who scored 266 goals with 619 points, have a great deal of respect for him.

"You can never second-guess him," said senior forward Al Wooley. "Coach Primeau pretty much knows everything."

Wooley pays special attention to Primeau because he is making the switch from defense to a forward position this season.

"He knows how to score goals," Wooley said. "He's scored a lot of big ones."

Senior defenseman Tom Lynch thinks Primeau's presence helps elevate the entire program.

"Keith Primeau helps us get recognized," he said. "He's helped us develop our organization and he's done a lot for South Jersey hockey as a whole."

Primeau is currently coaching three teams, but two of them are for younger players than high school age.

He said he enjoys coaching at the teenage level because by then, most players have their fundamentals down and are looking to expand their skills.

"It's less of the basics and more of the technical," he said. "They're not past their development, but they should have a good foundation and you're really just trying to reinforce that."

He began coaching at Bishop Eustace when his son, Corey, was playing for the team. But he remained with the program after his son graduated.

"It's very rewarding to be able to coach the younger players," he said. "That's why I stay involved."

Reach Don Benevento at dbenevento@courierpostonline.com