Last night the NHL honored the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame Inductees. Among them was former St. Louis Blues defender Chris Pronger. In his eighteen season NHL career Pronger amassed 698 points (157G, 541A) in 1167 games for five different organizations.
Hall of fame careers aren’t made overnight and require a lot of influence and assistance from other players, it’s important to look back on how no. 20 made it into the NHL elite.
Drafted second overall in the 1993 Entry Draft, Pronger came into the league as a talented young defenseman with a lot to prove. His rookie campaign resulted in 30 points (5G, 25A) in 81 games, which was good enough to land him on the All Rookie Team. During his sophomore season, however, Pronger only participated in 43 games.
The combination of some issues with discipline on and off the ice as well as the Whalers wanting to move in a different direction Pronger was traded to the Blues in exchange for Brendan Shanahan in 1995.
St. Louis Blues
More than half of Pronger’s time in the NHL was spent wearing the Blue note. He totaled Pronger was a member of the St. Louis Blues organization spanning from 1995-2004 and he served as the team’s captain after the departure of Brett Hull.
Injuries, however, plagued Pronger a few years into his time in St. Louis. He even dealt with a freak accident in a playoff game against the Detroit Red Wings that resulted in a brief cardiac arrest. Despite the injuries he suffered from during his time as a Blue, he led the team to the best of his ability even earning the honor of a Norris Trophy for the league’s best defenseman in 1999.
Ultimately Pronger’s issues with injuries and the establishment of the salary cap after the 2004-2005 lockout the Blues traded their captain to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Eric Brewer, Jeff Woywitka, and Doug Lynch.
Pronger had a short one season in Edmonton in which they went to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Carolina Hurricanes. Eventually losing in seven games Pronger ended the playoffs with an incredible 21 points (5G, 16A) in 24 games to lead the team.
Shortly after the season’s end, Pronger requested a trade out of Edmonton which greatly damaged his popularity in the city. On July 3rd, 2006 his wish was granted as the Oilers traded him to the Anaheim Ducks for Joffrey Lupul, a prospect and two draft picks.
The following season in Anaheim Pronger won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Ducks. The win made him a member of the Triple Gold Club: a Stanley Cup, Olympic Gold, and World Championship win.
Then in September of 2007 Pronger was named captain of the Ducks, before later being demoted to alternate captain upon former Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer’s return to the line-up.
After two season for the Ducks, Pronger was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange Joffrey Lupul once again, defender Luca Sbisa, and three draft picks.
As a member of the Flyers Pronger was once again a leader. He returned to the Stanley Cup Finals after Philadelphia made history and overcame being down 0-3 in a series against the Boston Bruins.
From there he and the Flyers beat the Montreal Canadiens and made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Finals were a hard-fought battle, but they ultimately resulted in the Hawks winning the championship in six games.
Injuries played a role again in his career as he underwent knee surgery during the 2010 off-season. That combined with other various injuries led him to play in only 50 of the Flyers’ 82 regular season games. Despite the absence of play, Pronger was named captain of the Flyers after Mike Richards was traded in 2011.
However, Pronger suffered from a number of hits that caused concussion-like symptoms before being hit in the eye in October 2011 by Mikhail Grabovski’s stick.
Ultimately the accumulation of injuries sealed Pronger’s fate and ended his rather unconventional career. Despite no longer being able to play, the Flyers traded their captain to the Anaheim Ducks in June 2015 along with Nicklas Grossmann in exchange for Sam Gagner because the trade benefited both teams salary cap-wise.
Hall of Fame
All of that resulted in Pronger’s induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame alongside the most elite players to have ever played. He was joined by Sergei Federov, Phil Housley, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Angela Ruggiero as members of the Class of 2015.
Congratulations to all of the inductees and a special thanks to Chris Pronger for his time spent in the Gateway City.
What was your favorite Chris Pronger moment? Leave your thoughts in the comments.