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.

Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

Matt Frattin
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Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.

 

Gaudreau, Monahan, Bouma express remorse after benching

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One day after getting benched for showing up late for practice — following an “epic” Super Bowl party, per Sportsnet — Calgary forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Lance Bouma apologized for their actions.

“We want to apologize to the organization, the coaches, our team especially, and the city of Calgary and the fans,” Gaudreau said, per the team’s Twitter account. “For us not to show up like that, and miss a game like that, it’s not professional on our part.”

“I’m a young guy and I’m a leader on this team,” Monahan added. “I’ve got to step up and take that back and earn that respect again.”

More on what transpired at Tuesday’s practice, from Sportsnet’s Mark Spector:

Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley did his best to keep an epic Super Bowl party under wraps. But two of his players — Lance Bouma and Sean Monahan — arrived at the Saddledome at 10:15 am for a 10:30 Monday morning practice, and those two barely beat Johnny Gaudreau in the Saddledome doors.

Then practice started, and in the words of Calgary winger David Jones: “It’s a little embarrassing when we’re not (making) five-foot passes.”

“I think (Hartley) was pretty pissed off.”

The trio was then subsequently benched for last night’s game against Toronto, which the Flames won 4-3.

Afterward, Hartley downplayed the incident, saying “it’s not like they robbed a bank,” before adding “they’re great kids.”

WATCH LIVE: Rangers at Penguins on Rivalry Night

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Three
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Tonight, the New York Rangers are in Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins at Consol, in a rematch of the ’14 and ’15 playoffs (the Blueshirts eliminated the Pens from each of the last two postseasons, you’ll recall.)

You can catch the game at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, or watch live online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s tilt:

NHL on NBCSN: Rangers, Penguins renew acquaintances on Rivalry Night

Rangers ‘are doing a lot of good things’

‘I wonder if that’s Crosby, what happens?’ — AV upset after McDonagh concussed by Simmonds

Malkin (lower body) to miss rest of week

Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week