Monday, July 6, 2009

Sportsology: Chris Pronger back with familiar faces

By Rick Morris

Courtesy of our good pal Russ Cohen/Sportsology/The 21st Century Media Alliance, here is an excellent rundown of how Chris Pronger's career has come full circle with his relocation to Philadelphia.

From Hartford to Philadelphia - Pronger, Stevens and Holmgren Have Come Full Circle
By Russ Cohen

Philadelphia - - The Philadelphia Flyers introduced their lastest star-studded acquisition, Chris Pronger, today at a press conference that had a lot of talk about next season but an equal amount of talk about the Hartford Whalers -- where he, GM Paul Holmgren and coach John Stevens all spent some time.

The Hartford Whalers drafted Pronger with the second overall pick in 1993 and he was a "can’t miss" prospect. Alexandre Daigle was drafted ahead of him, but that’s Ottawa’s cross to bear. Pronger had size and strength (6-6, 210) and he joined a team that had Stevens on it and Holmgren was the team’s coach. Even then, Holmgren knew the 18-year-old blueliner was going to be something special.

“In rookie camp, he was not only our best defenseman, but he was our best player,” said Holmgren, thinking back to a team that included Pat Verbeek, Geoff Sanderson, and Andrew Cassels. “Chris and I go back from our days in Hartford. I think our fans will love him.”

Pronger remembers his days in Hartford and that first season there.

“We were just joking about some of the situations we went through in Hartford,” Pronger said, looking at his new GM. “I was a young player and I remember getting pulled aside a few times.”

He wasn’t alone; Stevens was a part of that group as well.

“He was one of my partners,” he laughed, talking about Stevens being paired with him on the blueline.

So now fast forward 16 years later and Holmgren still feels like he reeled in a big fish.

“On draft day when we got Chris, we made our defense better and our team better.”

Last season at the age of 34, he played 82 games and the rearguard has remained relatively healthy over the course of his career, which means he could be in line to sign a multi-year deal.

“I’d love to finish my career here,” Pronger stated and then he mentioned that he didn’t want to play as long as Chris Chelios who is 47! “Things happen for a reason.”

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