Originally created 01/01/00

Owner: Tkachuk's salary made Primeau deal unattractive



RALEIGH -- Keith Tkachuk's $8.3 million contract for next season has blocked a trade that would have sent Carolina's Keith Primeau to Phoenix.

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.

Hurricanes' owner Peter Karmanos said Tkachuk's contract made a deal unrealistic. The three-time All-Star, who has two 50-goal seasons, is making $4.3 million this year but his salary jumps to $8.3 million next year.

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

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 said he had no intention of taking on an unattractive contract that Phoenix wants to unload.

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

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.