Chris Pronger

Chris Pronger skates for first time since back surgery; No timetable for season opener

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When Chris Pronger does anything in Philadelphia it’s a big deal. That all comes with the territory of being the face of the Flyers franchise. When Pronger went in for back surgery in May, it immediately got fans worried about how things would shape up for this season and for his future in Philly.

Today Pronger took a big step in his rehabilitation as he was back on the ice skating for the first time since his operation. As CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio found out from the Flyers practice facility, things are getting better for Pronger but there’s still no timetable for his return to action.

Pronger estimated he was a “couple” weeks away from rejoining full team workouts. He will miss the start of Flyers training camp on Sept. 17 and part of camp itself, all of which was expected.

Whether Pronger is ready for the season opener Oct. 6 against the Cup champion Bruins is the larger issue. Right now, there is no timetable.

“I felt pretty good – how did I look? A little suspect going left to right or right to left?” Pronger kidded. “It’s been a while … We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

“Having not skated or done anything on the ice in 4 ½ months, you have to take it slowly and see how you feel, day-by-day. Usually, the first time on the ice you feel pretty good and then its day 2-3-4-5 that you’re a little suspect.”

Getting Pronger back in the full run of things for the Flyers is a big deal, but more importantly they want to make sure he’s fully right. The Flyers still have Pronger under contract for the next six seasons and with him being 36 years-old, getting the most out of him for the long run makes much more sense than rushing him back to action for the start of the season.

The Flyers will need Pronger to be at his best in order to make a run at the Stanley Cup this year and while they’ve made some huge moves this summer to change the culture and look of the team, Pronger is the main man for keeping order in Philly. He leads by example and takes charge on the ice as well, something that endears him to Flyers fans and makes opposing fans and players gnash their teeth. Pronger’s defensive ability is what helps the Flyers the most, however, and without him the Flyers lack that big presence on the blue line.

If Pronger isn’t ready to go by the season opener, it might be disappointing for Philadelphia but having him healthy and ready to go all season long and into the playoffs matters more in the long run. With Pronger having his sarcasm in midseason form today, he’s a lot closer to being back than ever.

Blues aim to raise money for victims of Fort McMurray fires

An evacuee puts gas in his car on his way out of Fort McMurray, Alberta, as a wildfire burns in the background Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The raging wildfire emptied Canada's main oil sands city, destroying entire neighborhoods of Fort McMurray, where officials warned Wednesday that all efforts to suppress the fire have failed.  (Jason Franson /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.

Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:

Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.

Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.

“It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”

Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”

People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.

Video: Beagle’s perfect shot dogs Murray for early Caps lead

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Matt Murray was just on another level in Game 3, giving the impression that the Washington Capitals would only beat him with perfect shots.

Jay Beagle got that memo … and maybe added a little element of surprise on top of that.

As you can see from the video above, Beagle beat Murray from an unexpected angle with a pretty resounding goal. It was one of those “Wait, did that just happen?”-type moments.

The Capitals saw their lead go away moments before this post was completed, so it’s now 1-1.

WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins – Game 4

Washington Capitals T.J. Oshie (77) tries to slide the puck past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) during the third period of Game 3 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals in Pittsburgh, Monday, May 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
AP
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The Pittsburgh Penguins won Game 3 thanks to Matt Murray‘s heroics, but now they must face the Washington Capitals without Kris Letang in Game 4.

(And the Penguins were overwhelmed for much of that last contest with their best blueliner.)

The Capitals, meanwhile, acknowledge the baggage – perceived or not – of the past as they try to tie this series.

It should be a fascinating Game 4, and you can soak in all the drama and action on NBCSN and also stream it via the link below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

To be young: Coyotes to hire 26-year-old as GM, give Tippett more say

Arizona Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett watches his team play the Detroit Red Wings during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015.  (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)
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It sounds like the Arizona Coyotes’ youth movement won’t merely be seen on the ice.

ESPN’s Craig Custance reports that the Coyotes will promote 26-year-old assistant GM John Chayka to GM. The team teased a major press conference for Thursday, when that news is likely to be made official.

The presser could be useful for more than the usual quotes and mission statements, as the Coyotes seem like they may parallel the Toronto Maple Leafs in combining an experienced executive, a young up-and-coming thinker and a more empowered head coach.

Dave Tippett is expected to have more of a say in personnel decisions while the Coyotes hope to bring in a Lou Lamoriello-type to assist Chayka, according to Custance.

(Custance’s ESPN Insider article [subscription required] goes in much greater depth, including a comparison to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors rather than the Maple Leafs.)

It’s possible that Dallas Stars assistant GM Les Jackson might come in to help Chayka, although an earlier report suggests that Jackson might stay in Dallas.

Multiple reporters including Puck Daddy’s Josh Cooper back up Custance’s report.

Considering Chayka’s age – he’s primed to become the youngest GM in NHL history – it’s no surprise that people are churning out jokes.

(This post’s author comes with six more years of [life] experience and a resume stacked with impressive video game and fantasy hockey team-building, by the way.)