The inevitable has occurred.
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren revealed on Thursday night that defenseman and captain Chris Pronger will be shut down for the rest of the year and the playoffs.
“After consultation with respected concussion specialists Dr. Joseph Maroon and Dr. Micky Collins, it is the opinion of both doctors that Chris is suffering from severe post concussion syndrome. It is the recommendation of Doctors Maroon and Collins that Chris not return to play for the Philadelphia Flyers for the remainder of the 2011-12 season or playoffs. Chris will continue to receive treatment and therapy with the hope that he can get better.”
While you’re reading the statement and especially if you’re trying to read between the lines, let’s give the medical community the benefit of the doubt, eh?
No jokes or libelous conjecture that either or both of the two doctors who came to this prognosis have something fishy in mind because they’re located in Pittsburgh and they’re evaluating a patient from a rival team.
If you view this prognosis in the prism of the Flyers’ medical staff, the virulent strain of warrior mentality that causes players to return early from injuries, his drive and desire to prove his worth, and the bizarre nature of the word games that Holmgren has unleashed on us, I don’t think this is by any means a 100 percent admission that Chris Pronger will not be back this season.
It’s a strongly-worded statement from two doctors who are concussion experts, but it doesn’t mean that Pronger won’t be constantly evaluated and that those evaluations can change — for worse or for better.
I understand the visceral reaction: this news sucks, his career might be over, his contract is gonna screw us with the cap, the team has already moved on without him, etc., but all this pronouncement has done, in my view, is highlight the need to replace him — a need which I stated already existed no matter how well the Flyers did in his absence.
Yes, there is no “replacing” Pronger, but the hole now needs to be filled. My only concern there is that the front office believes so much in the predatory nature of other GMs, plus the fact that the club is atop the Eastern Conference, it may lull them into a false sense of security and that due diligence towards potential trades will turn into inaction.
So, in yet another instance of what Marcello D touched upon in an earlier column, Holmgren’s insistence on signing an avalanche of contracts in the offseason to get right up to the 50-man limit has somehow come back to benefit him.
The question now becomes: who will be auditioning for his own departure?