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Paul Holmgren admits Chris Pronger will never play again

Oct 15, 2013, 2:25 PM EDT

pronger

By now, pretty much everybody was already resigned to the fact that Chris Pronger was never going to appear in an NHL game again. That much isn’t news. The Flyers finally acknowledging the elephant in the room on the other hand…

In a story filed by Ken Campbell to The Hockey News, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren admits Pronger is retired for all intents and purposes. It’s believed to be the first time the team or a team executive has publicly stated that we’ve almost certainly seen the last of the great defenseman.

“I’ll say it, Chris is never going to play again,” said Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. “I have no problems saying it.”

There’s just one problem with Holmgren coming out and saying that. Popular thinking is Pronger hasn’t formally retired so that the club can continue placing him and his roughly $5 million salary cap hit on long-term injured reserve.

But since Pronger turned 35 during the deal, the Flyers have no way out of absorbing the cap hit for the next four seasons. He isn’t going to retire because he’s due $7 million in salary next season and $4 million in 2014-15. If he were to retire, he’d forfeit the money and the Flyers would still be on the hook for the cap hit the next four seasons. They can’t buy him out because the CBA forbids teams from buying out injured players, but the Flyers do get the cap relief by keeping him on the long-term injury list, the same way the Boston Bruins are dealing with Marc Savard.

Over-35 contracts were designed to prevent teams from circumventing the CBA, but it’s almost certain neither Pronger nor Savard – whose $4-million cap hit also runs the next four seasons, though his isn’t a 35-plus deal – will play again.

It’s been no secret in Philadelphia the Flyers have pulling this maneuver in large part to circumvent the cap. Now that it’s out in the open, will the NHL step in and put a stop to it?

My guess is probably not. Holmgren’s quote may have given the game away, but he could just as easily claim that’s only one man’s opinion. He’s not a doctor, and he can’t speak to Pronger’s intentions.

Still, it’s somewhat surprising the league has allowed this to go on for another season. You have to wonder if/when they’ll step in.

Per Campbell, both Holmgren and Pronger’s agent have sought some kind of compromise with the NHL with regard to the over-35 rule, but no exemptions are anticipated at this time. Perhaps turning a blind eye to the accounting tricks are the best they will do.

Pronger hasn’t suited up for the Flyers in nearly two full calendar years now and continues to suffer the effects of post-concussion syndrome. While reports have been increasingly optimistic about his improvement, his pro hockey days are likely long gone.

Campbell’s profile on Pronger is worth a read, as it touches on a variety of subjects including how the defenseman has transitioned into a front-office role with the Flyers.

>> Chris Pronger, still at large [THN]

  1. mike - Oct 15, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Holmgren then added that he is looking forward to unveiling the Flyers new color scheme of orange and black.

    Reply
    • shale0 - Oct 15, 2013 at 3:46 PM

      And he looks forward to welcoming Peter Laviolette to the franchise.

      Reply
    • BenE. - Oct 15, 2013 at 5:53 PM

      Hahahaha. Comment of the Week. Get it done, Enrico.

      Reply
      • willh888 - Oct 15, 2013 at 9:41 PM

        Gotta give the edge to the Richard’s comment in the other post. One of my favorites of the year

      • BenE. - Oct 15, 2013 at 10:16 PM

        That was great too

  2. Earl - Oct 15, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    It’s ok though. The Flyers will likely respond to the loss of a Hall Of Fame defenseman by adding a career AHL player to plug into 4th line left-wing who will skate less than 4 minutes a night, but will manage to get 2 penalties in the 3rd period. And be on the ice when the game winning goal is scored.

    It’s all good.

    Reply
    • BenE. - Oct 15, 2013 at 10:16 PM

      Talbot?

      Reply
  3. KJB - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    In other news, the Flyers currently have the lowest goals-per-game ratio in the league. Don’t mean to impose a fresh perspective on anybody. We have a pretty good culture.

    Reply
  4. EmptyNet20 - Oct 16, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    It is kind of sad that he is stuck in no man’s land. A man without a country. He can’t play, he can’t coach, he can’t retire. How very sad for such a great player and a captain that motivated his players. The Flyers losing him and Jagr began the downward spiral.

    Reply
  5. brian - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:00 AM

    Gagne still out there and he can score and play both pp and pk. I know he’s getting up there in age and is injury prone, but shit no one else can score except mcginn. Rosehill should be in the ECHL

    Reply
    • BenE. - Oct 17, 2013 at 4:19 AM

      The Flyers aren’t losing because Jay Rosehill is in the lineup. They’re losing because our scorers aren’t scoring.

      Scratch Rosehill all you want. The Flyers are still a losing team with the way our star players are performing.

      Reply

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