It was June 26, 2009. I was sitting in a Chinese buffet at the Plymouth Meeting Mall as my phone began to vibrate:
CSN ALERT: Flyers trade F Joffrey Lupul, D Luca Sbisa, 2009 1st round pick, 2010 1st round pick, and a conditional 3rd round pick in 2010 or 2011 to Anaheim for D Chris Pronger and F Ryan Dingle.
Immediately, I jumped up and exclaimed, “THE FLYERS GOT RYAN DINGLE!” Of course I began getting in touch with family members and hockey friends — not to discuss the bounty the Flyers gave up to trade for the All-star, Stanley Cup winning, future Hall of Famer Chris Pronger — but, rather, to discuss how there was no way the Stanley Cup would not end up in Philadelphia.
Alas, three years later, we Flyers fans sit and watch the possible end of Pronger’s career. CSN’s Tim Panaccio wrote an article quoting Lauren Pronger basically saying that Chris had not made progress and that they do not know what can be done.
So, I ask you, three years later, was the Pronger trade a success or a failure?
This question is not simply a yes or no answer. Had the Flyers beaten those Chicago Blackhawks, then hands down, this trade would have been a success. But, no, the Orange and Black fell in six games to the Blackhawks in 2010.
Our old friend Lupul is no longer on the Ducks and finds himself having a career renaissance in Toronto. Luca Sbisa has found himself in and out of the lineup the last three years, but may have finally found a permanent place on the Ducks blue line for the 2011-12 campaign. The Ducks traded the Flyers’ 2009 first rounder to Columbus. In 2010, the Ducks selected Emerson Etem, who currently plays in the Western Hockey League.
During the Dryden, Onario native’s three injury-plagued seasons in Philadelphia, he played 145 regular season games and scored 15 goals and 77 assists for 92 points. But what the Flyers really traded for was for guaranteed leadership during the postseason.
After the Flyers snuck into the 2010 postseason on the heels of Brian Boucher’s stellar shootout goaltending, the hulking defenseman led the Flyers as they marched through the Eastern Conference. Pronger tallied four goals and fourteen assists in 23 games, stealing hearts and minds, and oh yeah, also two stolen pucks and the media spotlight.
Executives say that it takes three years to fully evaluate a trade or a draft. Well my friends, we are in year three of the transaction, primed and ready to unleash our opinions.
After evaluating the trade, I deem this trade a success, albeit a disappointing success. To truly come out on top and have a successful trade, the Stanley Cup needed to be carried down Broad Street. As we know, that did not happen.
What did happen, though, was a culture change. No longer did the team become complacent and “let things happen.” Now, there was an outspoken leader who would take on any and all criticism from outside sources as he shielded his team from the negativity.
If this really is the end of Pronger, he will be looked at as a champion and a bona-fide culture changer. In Philadelphia, the acquisition will be looked upon as a success, but with a sudden and disappointing ending.