It has been assumed for some time, but no one has ever really come out and said Chris Pronger's career is done. At least not without words like “probably” or “likely” attached to that sentence. That was until a feature by The Hockey News catching up on the Pronger situation.
“I'll say it, Chris is never going to play again,” said Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. “I have no problems saying it.”
Pronger has been suffering from post-concussion symptoms and an eye injury that has kept him off the ice since 2011, but the big defenseman was holding out hope that he'd return to the NHL in a playing capacity.
According to THN's Ken Campbell, Pronger's concussion symptoms have gotten better, but his right eye may never be the same after he was hit with Mikhail Grabovski's stick on the follow-through on a shot.
Pronger is a controversial figure in hockey, often known for playing on the edge of the rules. That said, there's no controversy or debate that he is among the best defensemen to have played the game, particularly in recent years.
Pronger has remained involved with the Flyers, helping Holmgren on the hockey operations side of things. He remains on the Flyers' long-term injured reserve. Pronger can't retire if he wants to collect the $11 million due to him from his last contract with the team. His retirement would also leave the Flyers with a cap hit for the next four seasons, as Campbell wrote. The team can't buy him out either, since he is still injured.
It's a difficult situation for all involved, especially for Pronger, who at 39 likely still would have had some good seasons in him.
Pronger's career ends with 1,167 games played, including stints with the Hartford Whalers, St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks and the Flyers. He has 698 points and 1,590 penalty minutes. When he does officially retire, it's likely he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer.