(HockeyStL) -- It’s long been assumed that Chris Pronger would never play in another National Hockey League game. Pronger has remained on the Philadelphia Flyers’ roster since being sidelined by a devastating concussion in 2011 and the Flyers had never been willing to officially announce what was inevitable. That is, until this week when Flyers’ general manager Paul Holmgren told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News that Pronger’s playing career had ended.
"I'll say it, Chris is never going to play again," Holmgren told Campbell. "I have no problems saying it."
Pronger remains an active player, having yet to retire. He has settled into a new role as a scout for the Flyers over the past two seasons. As he is still a member of the NHLPA, and still considered active, his duties are somewhat limited. He was seen at the Flyers’ table at this year’s NHL Entry Draft, and he seemed to fit right in.
Chris Pronger is retiring. Share your thoughts on Pronger, is he a Hall of Famer? Share your thoughts.
“I have yet to be told what my duties are,” Pronger told Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly.com in September. “As still an active player and a dues-paying member of the [NHLPA] and all that, I know my role will be somewhat limited still in what I can and can’t do.”
The 39-year old defenseman has three more years remaining on his seven-year, $34.55 million deal with the Flyers. Because Pronger was 35 years old before the contract began, the Flyers are on the hook for his $4.9 million per year salary should he choose to retire before the deal is up. Right now, the Flyers are provided with cap relief by placing Pronger on the long-term IR, so it is believed that Pronger will remain an “active” player for the remainder of his contract. After his contract expires in 2017, it is certainly conceivable to assume we will see Pronger in a management capacity somewhere.
“Chris is one of the smartest guys in hockey I know,” Holmgren said to Campbell. “He has a real grasp of the game and a real understanding of his position and everybody else’s position on the ice. He’s like Tom Brady as a player. He just knows that much about what’s going on.”
Pronger has had multiple run-ins with concussions. It took the defenseman nearly two years to recover from his most recent concussion, and even with the post-concussion symptoms subsiding, Pronger is still feeling the effects of the injury. Problems with his right eye still persists, even now, nearly two years after being hit by the stick of Mikhail Grabovski on the follow-through of a shot. That unfortunate event would eventually lead to the end of what is sure to be a career worthy of a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Pronger’s NHL career was a long and prosperous one. He spent 18 seasons in the NHL, accumulating 698 points, 541 of them assists, in 1167 games. Of his 18 seasons, Pronger spent half of them in St. Louis. He was acquired by the Blues in 1995 from the Hartford Whalers. The Blues sent Brendan Shanahan to Hartford to bring Pronger to St. Louis. The Blues reached the playoffs in each of the nine seasons that Pronger was with the club. In the 1999-2000 season, Pronger won the NHL’s Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. Pronger had 62 points that year. He is the only defenseman to win the Hart Trophy in the past 40 years.
Pronger was eventually traded by the Blues to the Edmonton Oilers in 2005. He spent one season with the Oilers before being traded to the Anaheim Ducks. The final stop in Pronger’s NHL career was Philadelphia, where he played for three seasons.
Pronger reportedly moved back to the St. Louis area with his family this past summer, and while his playing days are over, he certainly has his sights set on finding a role that keeps him around the game of hockey for many years to come.