Chris Pronger is said to be making significant progress as he continues to recover from a severe concussion that cost him most of the 2011-12 season. This news comes shortly after a report emerged last week suggesting he had not made any progress since suffering the injury in November. While it is too early to tell if Chris Pronger is close to resuming workouts or attempting to skate again, news that Pronger is “doing better” provides hope that he could potentially play for the Philadelphia Flyers again.
As one of the biggest names to embody the issues the NHL has had dealing with concussions, Chris Pronger’s Hall of Fame career is certainly in jeopardy. Pronger attempted to play through what he thought was a virus while suffering from severe concussion symptoms, which likely worsened the his condition. Due to the almost 11 months before any signs of improvement, the 38-year-old defenseman risks a great deal by attempting to play in the NHL again. He would likely be highly susceptible to severe concussions for the rest of his career.
At this point, for the sake of being functional for the rest of his life, it appears retirement could be the best option for Chris Pronger. Because of the higher likelihood of sustaining another severe concussion if Chris Pronger returns, an NHL comeback would be extremely dangerous. Still, the NHL lockout delays the season long enough for Chris Pronger to consider an eventual return to hockey.
In addition to everyone’s primary concern, which is obviously the long-term health of Chris Pronger, a retirement decision impacts the Philadelphia Flyers financially. Beyond simply knowing if their top defenseman will be back, Chris Pronger’s retirement has salary cap implications. By retiring, Chris Pronger’s 7.2 million dollar cap hit will still be on the books next season. If Chris Pronger elects to continue his recovery efforts, he could be put on the Long-Term Injured Reserve list. While on the LTIR list, Pronger’s salary would not affect the Philadelphia Flyers.
Ultimately, Chris Pronger might remain in the NHL through the upcoming lockout for the sake of the Philadelphia Flyers’ salary cap, but it might be in his best interest to hang up his skates instead of attempting a comeback. Luckily, Pronger and the Flyers can wait out the NHL lockout while Chris Pronger considers his next career move.