All-star C Keith Primeau will be skating again, but not for the Hurricanes. Instead of waiting to be traded or for a break in contract negotiations, Primeau will leave the NHL and join the Canadian national team, his agent said yesterday.

Primeau, 27, was the team captain before the Hurricanes moved to North Carolina, when they played in Hartford, Conn. He became a restricted free agent last summer.

Contract negotiations stalled after Primeau decided not to take an offer to stay with Carolina the next two years for $6 million. He has not played with the team this season.

"They said, 'The only way Keith will play for us is if he plays at $3 million and we are not trading Keith Primeau, so he can sit at home all year,' " Primeau's agent, Todd Reynolds, said in a telephone interview from Toronto. "If he's going to do that, then he has to start playing hockey, and that's why he's going to be joining the national team."

Carolina GM Jim Rutherford believes the offers have been fair.

Primeau probably will join the Canadian team in a week at no salary, Reynolds said. The national team competes in international events such as the Olympics and world championships. It now is playing in England.