|Born||October 10, 1974 |
Dryden, Ontario, Canada
|Height||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)|
|Weight||220 lb (100 kg; 15 st 10 lb)|
St. Louis Blues
|NHL Draft||2nd overall, 1993|
|Hall of Fame, 2015|
Chris Pronger (born Christopher Robert Pronger on October 10, 1974) is a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman who is currently under contract with the Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League (NHL).
He has not played since November 2011 due to post-concussion syndrome related to three separate hits suffered during his career; he also suffers from vision impairment due to being hit in the eye(s) by the blade of another player's stick. Even though he's not officially retired, Chris is not expected to play again.
In October 2014, Chris signed a contract with the NHL to assist its Player Safety Division, although he is excused from any decisions directly affecting the Coyotes (with whom he still remains under a player contract).
Originally selected 2nd overall by the Hartford Whalers in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Chris has played for Hartford, the St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks before being traded to the Flyers before the 2009–10 season, having also captained the Blues and Ducks during that time.
He has appeared in the Stanley Cup finals with three different teams (Edmonton, Anaheim, and Philadelphia), winning the Cup with the Ducks in 2007.
Chris won the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player (for the 1999–2000 season) and was the first defenceman to win the award since Bobby Orr in 1972.
A mainstay on Team Canada, Chris won Olympic gold medals at Salt Lake City 2002 and Vancouver 2010 and is a member of the Triple Gold Club.
Chris has not played since November of 2011 due to post-concussion syndrome after three separate hits, also including being hit in the eye(s) by the butt-end of another players stick. He now suffers with vision impairment.
Even though he is not officially retired, Chris is not expected to play again.
- 1 Playing Career
- 2 Career Statistics
- 3 Career Transactions
- 4 International Play
- 5 Awards & Achievements
- 6 Career Suspensions
- 7 Personal Life
Early Playing Career
Before entering the Junior ranks in Ontario, Chris grew up playing minor hockey in his hometown.
As a 15-year-old, he was identified through the Ontario U-17 program and signed with the Stratford Cullitons Jr. B (OHA) club for the 1990–91 season. One of his defence partners in Stratford was future NHLer Greg DeVries.
In May of 1991, he indicated he was going to join his older brother Sean at Bowling Green State University (NCAA) instead of opting for the OHL.
Regardless of his pre-draft indications, he was selected in the 6th round by the Peterborough Petes in the OHL Priority Selection.
Chris subsequently reported to the Petes and played two years in the OHL before being selected in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft.
After two outstanding seasons with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), and because of being highly regarded for his rare combination of imposing size, speed, offensive skill (particularly on the power play) and physicality as a defenceman, Chris was selected second overall by the Hartford Whalers in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft behind Alexandre Daigle who made the infamous statement, "I'm glad I got drafted first, because no one remembers number two."
Hartford Whalers & St. Louis Blues
Chris made his debut in the 1993–94 NHL season, playing 81 games for the Whalers and earning a spot on the NHL All-Rookie Team, however, he was one of multiple Whalers that season with off-ice issues, being one of six Whalers players arrested for a barroom brawl in Buffalo in late March (the brawl also involved a Whalers assistant coach), and then being arrested for drunk driving in Ohio three days after his rookie season ended, leading some to consider Chris impatient and immature.
On his rookie season, then-teammate Kelly Chase noted, "You could see [Pronger] had talent, but it was a ho-hum thing. He really didn't have any direction. He was under a lot of pressure and just wasn't ready for the responsibility. Of course that team wasn't exactly overloaded with players who knew how to win" (the Whalers finished next-to-last in the Eastern Conference that season).
After a second season in Hartford, Chris was traded to the St. Louis Blues for star forward Brendan Shanahan on July 27, 1995.
In the early years of his St. Louis career, Chris played under coach and general manager Mike Keenan who insisted on him improving his conditioning and reducing his mistakes.
Late in his first season, the acquisition of Wayne Gretzky took pressure off of Chris which combined with Keenan's practices allowed him to concentrate on improving his defensive play.
In Chris's third season with St. Louis and first as team captain following the departure of Brett Hull as a free agent, he was again named to the All-Star team.
That year, Chris also had a brief cardiac arrest during the 1998 Stanley Cup Playoffs when he was hit in the chest with a puck in a game against the Detroit Red Wings.
Prior to this he played for the Canadian Olympic team in Nagano. In 1999–2000, Chris recorded a career-high 62 points and a +52 rating. His efforts culminated in a Norris and Hart Trophy at the end of the season.
Chris beat Art Ross winner Jaromir Jagr by just one point in Hart Trophy voting, which was, at the time, the smallest margin of victory in the history of the award. (Two years later, Jarome Iginla and Jose Theodore tied in overall voting; Théodore won with more first-place votes.) He was also named to the First All-Star Team.
Chris notched 47 points the next season, but appeared in only 51 games due to injury problems. In February of 2002, he won a gold medal with the Canadian Olympic Team in the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
That same year in the NHL, Chris had another fine season and played in the All-Star Game once again, but injuries became a problem again in 2002–03, limiting him to just five games played (during which time, Al MacInnis replaced him as captain).
Chris bounced back with another quality season in 2003–04 (when he re-assumed the captaincy after MacInnis suffered a career-ending injury).
Following the 2004–05 NHL lockout and imposition of the NHL salary cap, the Blues traded Chris to the Edmonton Oilers for defencemen Eric Brewer, Jeff Woywitka and Doug Lynch.
While the Blues needed to reduce team salaries to make it easier to sell the team, the Oilers were able to sign Chris to a five-year, $31.25 million contract.
Chris was selected to play for Team Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics, marking his third consecutive Olympic Games. The Oilers went to the Stanley Cup Final that same year.
On June 5, 2006, in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Carolina Hurricanes, Chris became the first player in NHL history to score a penalty shot goal in a Stanley Cup Final game.
The Oilers lost in game seven, with Chris scoring a team-leading 21 points (5 goals, 16 assists) in 24 games, as well as a team leading plus/minus rating of +10 during the playoffs.
On June 23, 2006, Chris requested a trade through his agent, Pat Morris, from the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe said that the request was due to personal reasons while media outlets reported that his wife, Lauren, was not happy in Edmonton.
The controversy surrounding Chris's trade request has led many to describe him as "Public Enemy No.1" in Edmonton.
On July 3, 2006, Chris was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Joffrey Lupul, defensive prospect Ladislav Smid, Anaheim's 2007 first-round draft pick (traded to the Phoenix Coyotes, picked Nick Ross), a conditional first-round draft pick (dependent on the Ducks reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in the next 3 years, which they did, becoming forward Jordan Eberle) and Anaheim's 2008 second-round draft pick (later traded to the New York Islanders).
In 2007, Chris played an important role for the Ducks run as they reached the Stanley Cup Finals and later won the championship. It was also his second straight finals appearance.
During the Conference Finals, Chris was suspended for one game for a check on Detroit Red Wings winger Tomas Holmstrom. He later criticized the Canadian media's coverage of the incident.
In the final round, he was suspended for one game for elbowing Ottawa Senators winger Dean McAmmond in the head during game 3. With the Stanley Cup victory he became a member of the Triple Gold Club.
On September 28, 2007, Chris was named the captain of the Ducks, replacing Scott Niedermayer.
Although Niedermayer returned to the lineup later in the season, Chris remained captain until the start of next season when Niedermayer was renamed captain. He retained a role as alternate captain.
On March 12, 2008, Chris was involved in an incident with Vancouver's Ryan Kesler. After being tangled up with Kesler behind the Anaheim blue line, he stomped unnecessarily on Kesler's leg.
Kesler was not injured, and upon initial review the NHL did not suspend Chris, however, upon new video evidence, which provided a better angle, the league once again reviewed the incident and gave him an 8-game suspension.
Chris returned to the ice April 6th against the Phoenix Coyotes in Anaheim's last regular season game of the year.
The 2008–09 season was quite successful for Chris who played his 1000th career game on February 20, 2009. The Ducks would rally late in the season to jump into 8th place of the Western conference.
They dispatched the President's Trophy winner San Jose Sharks in six games before falling to the Detroit Red Wings in seven games. Chris had 2 goals and 8 assists in 13 playoff games.
On June 27, 2009, Chris (along with forward Ryan Dingle) was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Lupul (earlier traded to Edmonton for him in 2006), defenceman Luca Sbisa, two first round draft picks and a conditional third round draft pick. Ten days later, he signed a seven-year contract extension.
Nearly a month after signing, the NHL announced they had launched an investigation on Chris's deal to determine whether it was a circumvention of the salary cap under the collective bargaining agreement.
Because the contract is front-loaded, with annual salaries of just $525,000 in the final two years, and expires by the time Chris is 42 years old, the investigation was launched with the focus on the potential of negotiations between him and the Flyers to retire before contract expiration.
As Chris's contract took effect after his 35th birthday under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement, his over-35 contract cannot be deleted from the Flyers' cap space unless he is placed on long-term injured reserve, and even then it would come back on the team's cap space during the offseason.
On December 30, 2009, Chris was selected to play for Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He served as one of the team's alternate captains, along with Sidney Crosby and Jarome Iginla.
The team won the gold-medal that year. Chris became the leader for most Olympic games played for Canada after playing his 25th Olympic game on February 28, 2010.
In the NHL regular season, the Flyers qualified for the playoffs on the last day of the season with a shootout win against the New York Rangers, however, a playoff run marked by an upset of the New Jersey Devils, an astounding comeback against the Boston Bruins from down 0–3 in the series and a thumping of the Montreal Canadiens would culminate in the Flyers playing the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.
Though the Flyers lost 4–2, it was another achievement for Chris who had a strong playoff performance and lead a team that traded for him to the Finals for the third time in a row.
Conversely, Chris' former team continued another bizarre streak as the Anaheim Ducks missed the playoffs. No team that traded him away qualified for the playoffs the following year.
Since being traded to the Blues, Chris has made the playoffs with every team that he has played for and in every season he has played.
Following the playoffs, Chris underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. He missed the first two games of the 2010–11 NHL season.
Various other injuries would limit Chris to just 50 games, marking the first time that he missed significant time since the 2002–03 season where he missed 77 games.
On September 16, 2011, Chris was named the 18th captain in Philadelphia Flyers history, replacing Mike Richards who was traded to the Los Angeles Kings just before the 2011 draft.
However, multiple hits resulting in post-concussion syndrome (the last being a collision with Martin Hanzal, who like Chris is 6'6") limited him to 13 games before Chris was shut down for the season in mid-December with the post-concussion syndrome placing his career in jeopardy.
With a resumption of his playing career looking unlikely, on January 15, 2013, Chris stepped down as team captain and was succeeded by Claude Giroux. His contract runs through the 2016-17 season; he will not retire as a player until then.
Chris was 35 years old before the contract began, so the Flyers are on the hook for the $4.9 million cost against the salary cap each season, though they have been able to receive relief by placing Pronger on long-term injured reserve at the start of each season.
Had Chris retired officially, the Flyers would lose that ability and his contract would count fully against the cap, furthermore he would not receive the rest of the salary owed to him from the contract which was $12.15 million at the start of the 2013-14 season. While no longer an on-ice player, he still remained with the Flyers at the management level helping to scout and interview prospects.
On June 27, 2015, the Philadelphia Flyers included Chris' contract in a trade (alongside Nicklas Grossmann) to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Sam Gagner and a conditional pick. The deal was made to the benefit of salary cap implications to each club, and Pronger is not expected to play for the team.
Three days later, on June 30, 2015, Chris was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame; as the Hall only counts games played as its criteria for the minimum waiting period, he was eligible for induction even though he is still technically an active player (as he had not played a game in three full seasons at the time of his induction).
|1995–96||St. Louis Blues||NHL||78||7||18||25||110||13||1||5||6||16|
|1996–97||St. Louis Blues||NHL||79||11||24||35||143||6||1||1||2||22|
|1997–98||St. Louis Blues||NHL||81||9||27||36||180||10||1||9||10||26|
|1998–99||St. Louis Blues||NHL||67||13||33||46||113||13||1||4||5||28|
|1999–00||St. Louis Blues||NHL||79||14||48||62||92||7||3||4||7||32|
|2000–01||St. Louis Blues||NHL||51||8||39||47||75||15||1||7||8||32|
|2001–02||St. Louis Blues||NHL||78||7||40||47||120||9||1||7||8||24|
|2002–03||St. Louis Blues||NHL||5||1||3||4||10||7||1||3||4||14|
|2003–04||St. Louis Blues||NHL||80||14||40||54||88||5||0||1||1||16|
|Senior int'l totals||34||1||10||11||36|
All-Star Game Statistics
- June 26, 1993 – Drafted by the Hartford Whalers in the 1st round (2nd overall).
- July 27, 1995 – Traded to the St. Louis Blues for Brendan Shanahan.
- August 3, 2005 – Traded to the Edmonton Oilers for Eric Brewer, Jeff Woywitka and Doug Lynch.
- July 3, 2006 – Traded to the Anaheim Ducks for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid, 1st round pick in 2007 (Riley Nash), a 2008 2nd round picks (traded to New York Islanders, Travis Hamonic) and a conditional 1st round pick for one of the 2008/2009/2010 drafts (conditions were met in 2008, Jordan Eberle).
- June 26, 2009 – Traded to the Philadelphia Flyers along with Ryan Dingle for Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa and Philadelphia's 1st round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft (Traded to Columbus, John Moore) and the 2010 NHL Entry Draft (Emerson Etem) and a conditional pick for either the 2010 NHL Entry Draft or the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (conditions did not transpire).
|Competitor for Canada|
|Men's ice hockey|
|Gold||2002 Salt Lake City|
|World Junior Championships|
Awards & Achievements
- OHL First All-Star Team – 1993
- Max Kaminsky Trophy – 1993
- CHL Plus/Minus Award – 1993
- CHL Best defenceman – 1993
- NHL All-Rookie Team – 1994
- Bud Light NHL Plus/Minus Award – 1998, 2000
- Played in NHL All-Star Game – 1999, 2000, 2001 (voted in as starter but injured), 2002, 2004, 2008
- James Norris Memorial Trophy – 2000
- Hart Trophy (MVP) – 2000
- NHL First All-Star Team - 2000
- NHL Second All-Star Team - 1998, 2004, 2007
- 2002 Winter Olympics - Won Olympic Gold with Team Canada
- Stanley Cup – 2007
- 2010 Winter Olympics - Won Olympic Gold with Team Canada
- October 29, 1995: with St. Louis — four games, slashing (Washington’s Pat Peake)
- December 17, 1998: with St. Louis — four games, high stick (Phoenix’s Jeremy Roenick)
- October 11, 2000: with St. Louis — one game, leaving bench for altercation (Los Angeles’s Kelly Buchberger)
- April 3, 2002: with St. Louis — two games, cross-check (Dallas’s Brenden Morrow)
- March 14, 2004: with St. Louis — one game, kicking (Calgary’s Ville Nieminen)
- May 15, 2007: with Anaheim — one playoff game, blow to the head (Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom)
- June 3, 2007: with Anaheim — one playoff game, blow to the head (Ottawa’s Dean McAmmond)
- March 12, 2008: with Anaheim — eight games, stomping on the leg (Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler)
Chris' parents are Jim and Eila Pronger, an immigrant from Pori, Finland. He and his wife Lauren have three children: two sons named Jack Hunter (born in 2001) & George William (born in 2004) and a daughter named Lilah Marie (born on July 23, 2008).
While playing for Anaheim, Chris resided in Irvine, California. While playing for Philadelphia, he resided in Haddonfield, New Jersey.
In the 2012–13 NHL season, Chris moved back to St. Louis with prospects for playing hockey again are unlikely.
He has appeared on the cover of "NHL Hitz 2003" and "NHL 2000."