Last night we found out that Chris Pronger will be shut down for the rest of the season and the playoffs with a severe concussion. It was stunning news, considering that nobody, even the man himself, has any idea when exactly he suffered the concussion. At first, he thought it was some weird virus, before further testing provided the correct diagnosis. Now the Flyers don’t have to wonder when their captain will be back in the lineup. So how do they move on with out their main piece on defense?
First off, we have to get rid of the idea that he can be replaced. He’s a future HOFer, with a unique set of skills, his own personality, and method of leadership. He plays defense a certain way. He plays offense a certain way. Matt Carle, his usual partner, cannot play the same way as he would with Prongs on the ice. He should be used to adjusting to various partners though, since Pronger has battled injury problems for most of this season and most of last.
Now Paul Holmgren and Peter Laviolette have some major personnel decisions to make. The main question is: do we simply stay the course with the young guys that we brought up from the minors, or we do we seek to add someone via trade? There are pro’s and cons with both. You want the young guys getting experience. But you worry about them making rookie mistakes in crucial game situations. And if you want to bring someone else aboard, who do you part ways with? What are the long term salary cap implications? Is there a difference maker available? I wouldn’t want another older depth guy. I’d prefer a guy that is of a higher caliber.
As for the guys who are here now, they have to get ready to play with a different mindset. They can’t simply hold down the fort, waiting for Chris to rejoin them. That ship has obviously sailed. The guys who were here last year know that the team lost their mean streak and became complacent. They cannot allow that to happen. Somebody has to step up and be the badass. Everyone has to be more responsible in their own end. Prongs played 22 minutes a game this season. That’s some hard minutes that no single player will step in and cover. Guys have to share the load.
The main thing to remember is that he’s just one piece of the puzzle. Obviously he’s an important guy, but his loss doesn’t signal the end of the season for the whole team. Everyone will have to sacrifice a little more, and dig a little deeper to make sure this loss doesn’t hurt the team badly. So far, we’ve done ok without him this season. We’ll see how the rest of the year plays out.
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