When Keith Primeau hit the ice for his final year of junior with the Niagara Falls Thunder in 1989-90, he brought his flaming stick along as he finished the year atop the OHL in goals scored and total points.
As part of a talented crop of recruits in 1990, he was selected 3rd overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL Entry Draft that included Jaromir Jagr, Owen Nolan, and Martin Brodeur.
But Primeau's debut with the Red Wings was rocky. Some consider him to have been an underachiever during his six seasons in the Motor City. Others, however, point out that he was often forced to play out of position, as a winger. As a natural centreman, he also had to queue up behind Federov and Yzerman for ice time.
But Primeau stuck with the program, and gradually established himself as a solid, third-line centreman. He was quite happy with his situation until the Wings brought in Igor Larionov, a move that effectively bumped Primeau farther down the centremen's pecking order. For him, the move was unacceptable. He became a holdout until the club traded him to the Hartford Whalers in 1996.
In Harford, Primeau was finally free to become more of a front-line warrior. By the time the Whalers transferred to Carolina, he had established himself as a strong skating giant with soft hands. In more recent years, he has been characterized as one of the league's best forwards who is not necessarily the best at any one thing in particular.
After three seasons in the Hartford/Carolina organization, Primeau was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyres in the summer of 1999. Prior to joining the Flyers, Primeau suited up Canada's Olympic Team at the 1998 Nagano Games. Upon his arrival in Philly, Primeau has fit in nicely, playing the tough, well-balanced brand of hockey that Flyers fans have come to appreciate.
During the 2003-04 season, Primeau was instrumental in leading the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Final, while reaching the 900-game and the 600-point plateau.
Following a lock out year, Primeau suffered a concussion nine games into the 2005-06 NHL regular season which brought his season to an abrubt end. Due to the ongoing post-concussion syndrome, Primeau would officially annouce his retirement from hockey in September of 2006.