In a heart-breaking dose of reality, the Philadelphia Flyers have publicly acknowledged for the first time that Chris Pronger's professional hockey career is done. In a radical metaphor, it feels like the plug has finally been pulled.
In an exclusive interview with Hockey News, this is the first time the team has publicly made it known his career is over.
"I'll say it, Chris is never going to play again," said Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. "I have no problems saying it."
On Tuesday, the rumor mill concerning the Philadelphia Flyers blew up.
Not only was it confirmed by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun that forward Danny Briere would be bought out, but conflicting reports about goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov's security with the team surfaced, as well as trade rumors involving Anaheim's Bobby Ryan and Los Angeles' Jonathan Bernier also came to the forefront.
Talk about a crazy day.
All of this coming on the heels of a reported deal struck with the New York Islanders to acquire their former captain Mark Streit. Streit signed a bloated four year pact worth a grand total of $22 million. Following that deal, it signaled change. There is writing on the wall...but for whom?
If, for example, both Briere and Bryzgalov are bought out, that unlocks about $12 million in cap space. The Flyers are currently above the new cap ceiling of $64 million by $7 million. These moves would not afford a ton of room, but it would at least be something.
The Flyers came to a crossroads two offseasons ago.
They could have gone in one or two directions. One side of the path had them rebuilding the team, pushing a youth movement that would make them a dangerous contender in a couple years. The other path was the same win-now mentality the Flyers have had for the last two decades, resulting in a couple Stanley Cup berths and a handful of Conference Finals appearances.
Unfortunately, general manager Paul Holmgren tried to travel down both paths at once and wound up falling flat on his face this season.
(Photo: Wayne Simmonds (front) and Sean Couturier (back) were both a part of the youth movement. Photo by John Russo/The Checking Line)
In sports, the phrase "injuries are part of the game" is used quite often. However, the popular phrase took on a whole new meaning for the Philadelphia Flyers during the shortened 2012-2013 regular season.
To put things into perspective, the Flyers lost 264 man games to injury or illness.
Some things were known heading into the season such the fact that defenseman Chris Pronger wouldn't see any action as he recovers from a concussion. The Flyers didn't have quite as much depth at the forward position as they did the season prior.
(Scott Hartnell. Photo by John Russo/The Checking Line)
Since dealing two of the franchise's most prominent stars of the 2000's, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, it seems the Philadelphia fan base has surgically dissected every single move made by the Flyers front office.
The two most scrutinized moves in the past two years though are the dealings of young stars James van Riemsdyk and Sergei Bobrovsky. To be fair, the former was an even trade that benefited both the Flyers, who got Luke Schenn, and the Maple Leafs, who landed the scorer in van Riemsdyk.
As for the latter, Bobrovsky was traded this past offseason to the Columbus Blue Jackets where he won the starting job over now-current Flyers back-up goaltender Steve Mason. After turning the Blue Jackets around and nearly making the post season, Bobrovsky is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league's best goaltender.
(Pictured: Serge Bobrovsky against the Stars on April 25, 2013. Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
Now 5-9-0 in games against the current playoff set, acrimoniously booed off the Wells Fargo Center ice after a sadsack performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, the Philadelphia Flyers find themselves at a crux. Are they a playoff team?
Is this team, that needs to be bailed out by magical timeouts on a daily basis, that can only play 20 minutes on any given night, that cannot get the big save when they need it, a playoff team?
The decision remains optional, but recent history suggests that the use of visors on hockey helmets should be mandatory.
Simply put, the eyes are the most important part of a hockey player, and they must be protected.
Last night in a game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers, a Kimmo Timonen slap shot deflected off of a Flyer stick and straight up into the face of Rangers defenseman Marc Staal. Staal was left in a pool of his own blood on the ice, holding his right eye.
Staal left the game immediately after being hit directly in the eye, and is out indefinitely. According to a tweet by Nick Kypreos, the injury is not believed to be career-threatening.
(Pictured: A trainer tends to Rangers defenseman Marc Staal after getting hit in the right eye by a puck Tuesday night. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)