Chris Pronger’s offseason of rehab from back surgery is a point of interest for everyone in Philadelphia and Flyers fans all over the place. After all, Pronger’s the most formidable defenseman on the Flyers’ blue line and he’s also the guy who’s got more than a few more years left on his 35+ contract to play there. In short, the Flyers need him to be in tip-top shape for now and a the next six years.
With Pronger back on the ice and skating as well as doing shooting drills, hope has been running high that he’d be able to return in time for the Flyers first game of the year on opening night in Boston on October 7. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, making a comeback of his own after his bike accident last week, says that he believes Pronger is in line to be ready to go for the start of the regular season. CSNPhilly.com’s Sarah Baicker has the hopeful words out of Flyers camp.
There’s no definite timeline for Pronger’s return. He likely won’t join his teammates on the ice Saturday, when the full team’s training camp begins. But Holmgren – and Pronger – are optimistic he’ll be ready for Day 1 of the NHL season.
“Right now, I think he is [going to be ready for Day 1],” Holmgren said. “We haven’t had any setbacks. He continues to get better every day. He’s been on the ice the last few days here, and the off-ice rehab and conditioning he’s doing here is right on track.”
If Pronger is good to go on opening night, that’s encouraging beyond belief for the Flyers as they’d be looking at potentially starting both Oskars Bartulis and Andreas Lilja alongside Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros and Kimmo Timonen. With Pronger back in the lineup, one of either Bartulis or Lilja will get the call to start barring anyone blowing the coaches away during training camp.
For as tenuous as Pronger’s health and ability to hold up through all the physical abuse he takes seems to be, the Flyers desperately need him in the lineup to be a contender. If there’s any doubt that Pronger isn’t totally ready to get back in the lineup, the Flyers should proceed with caution. Then again, we’re not the ones that have to deal with a motivated and grumpy Pronger itchy to get back on the ice either. If he wants in, he’ll make sure it happens.