It’s been nearly two months since Flyers captain Chris Pronger’s career took a turn for the concussed. On Nov. 21, he was placed on long-term injured reserve and was declared out for the remainder of the 2011-12 season with concerning and lingering concussion symptoms.
With the injury came a long silence, which was broken on Saturday night on the Flyers’ official Twitter.
“It is very, very tough right now,” Pronger said. “I don’t feel well and it hurts so much not to be playing.”
The heartfelt statement of frustration reaffirms thoughts that the 36-year-old is indeed done for the season, which includes playoffs. Like Keith Primeau before him, who retired because of concussion issues, the unwavering set of concussion symptoms also puts Pronger’s lustrous career in jeopardy.
Pronger participated in just 13 games and registered 12 points before being shut down because of the injury. Pronger has been described depressed and frustrated by Flyers staffers who have come in contact with the veteran.
With Chris Pronger out for the season with post-concussion syndrome, general manager Paul Holmgren and the Flyers are expected to shop for a minute-eating defenseman to fill the void and solidify the team’s blue line for the stretch run.
According to Edmonton Journal reporter Jim Matheson, the Flyers won’t have to look outside the Eastern Conference to find that.
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It could be felt across Philadelphia.
The type of fear and trepidation that only a head trauma injury could bring.
Late in the second period of Saturday night’s 5-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, an ill-fated and misplayed body check by Claude Giroux put him in the direct contact with teammate Wayne Simmonds.
Simmonds did his best to dodge Giroux, but in trying to leap over him, kneed the Flyers’ leading scorer in the back of his head. Giroux stumbled off the ice and shortly after was sent into the locker room.
He did not return to the game as a precaution according to general manager Paul Holmgren. He will be re-evaluated on a day-to-day basis.
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Facing a crucial Game 2 on Monday against the Boston Bruins, the Flyers need a physical and emotional overhaul if they plan to leave Philadelphia with a split. From the coaches to Brian Boucher in net, the Flyers must be better in almost every facet if they want to climb back into the series.
Here are the keys to Game 2 for the Flyers.
Since Chris Pronger’s Game 6 return to the line up, the talk has been of his impact on the power play, his veteran presence and the spark he could and did provide. That’s all true and proved so in the team’s Game 7 victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
But in the long-term, as the big defenseman begins to log more minutes and heal that aching right hand, Pronger’s key contribution will come in the form of pure depth for the Flyers.
“I think his presence back there is huge,” said James van Riemsdyk. “When you get a guy like him back in the lineup it’s huge.”
Gritting their teeth to overcome the crippling effects of poor goaltending, some how, some way, the Flyers are coming home for Game 7. And hidden under the cloud of poor personnel decisions, backstop philosophies and power play inefficiency, the Flyers are winning with pure, unadulterated willpower.
“We’ve shown heart and character from the onset of the season,” Chris Pronger told reporters in Buffalo. “Went through a lot of ups-and-downs and come through in the clutch. It happened again today.
“It’s the drive and desire to win.”
VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers are not the same team without Chris Pronger.
That’s an easily stated fact.
The 17-year veteran works like a pillar, particularly in the postseason, holding strong as everything collapses around him. His grit, violence and experience is unparalleled. His presence and skill around the net is as intimidating as it is effective.
However, as the surly blueliner painfully inches his way back into the line up after suffering a broken hand on Feb. 24 and re-injuring it sometime in mid-March, it would serve in the Flyers’ best interest to forget the big man and start the series against the Buffalo Sabres like Pronger won’t play — which might not fall far from the truth.