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 Friday, December 31
Primeau remains holdout with no deal
Associated Press

 RALEIGH, N.C. -- A deal that would have sent Carolina Hurricanes center Keith Primeau to the Phoenix Coyotes for left winger Keith Tkachuk was rejected because of Tkachuk's escalating salary, the Hurricanes' owner says.

Peter Karmanos said Tkachuk's salary, which jumps from $4.3 million this year to $8.3 million next year, made any trade for Primeau economically unfeasible.

"Keith Tkachuk has a stupid contract," Karmanos told The News & Observer of Raleigh.

The proposed trade would have sent Primeau along with defenseman Dave Karpa, now with Carolina's top minor league team in Cincinnati, and two undisclosed draft picks to Phoenix for Tkachuk, a three-time All-Star with two 50-goal seasons.

Primeau, a restricted free agent since July 1, would have accepted a four-year, $16.9 million deal to join the Coyotes, said Don Reynolds, one of his agents.

"This is the third time I've negotiated with teams that thought they had a deal for Keith, and each time Pete Karmanos has pulled the trade off the table," Reynolds said.

Karmanos, though, said Phoenix is looking to get rid of a contract it doesn't want to fulfill.

"The reason (the Coyotes) would think about trading Tkachuk is because they don't want to carry his contract," Karmanos said. "I would not want to take on his contract, but that doesn't mean I don't want to put a competitive team on the ice."

Karmanos admitted he has twice come close to trading Primeau during his contract dispute. He said a trade last month with Philadelphia was rejected by the Flyers.

He would not comment about the Philadelphia players involved or any other trade proposals. Jeremy Roenick, Phoenix's other All-Star forward, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for a Primeau trade.

Since becoming a restricted free agent, Primeau has rejected Carolina's contract offers of three years at $12 million, five years at $20 million and two years at $7 million.

Primeau, who made $2 million in 1998-99, his third season with the Hurricanes, said he rejected the $20 million deal because it would prevent him from becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency in four years.

While Primeau's teammates have generally kept quiet about the contract dispute, left winger Gary Roberts publicly criticized last year's team captain Thursday.

Roberts said it was hard to understand why Primeau would accept an offer of $16.9 million over four years and reject a $12 million, three-year deal.

"He has hung this entire team out to dry," Roberts said.

Primeau said Roberts' anger was misdirected and he was frustrated now that the Hurricanes have dropped seven of their last nine games.


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