Chris Pronger

Pronger believes concussions will be reduced (with his help)

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TORONTO (AP) Chris Pronger took more than a few physical liberties with opponents during his playing career.

Intimidation was part of what made the big defenseman a Hockey Hall of Famer.

On the wrong side of the NHL law eight times, Pronger had an “open-ended budget” for fines and suspensions.

That’s his past. Now years removed from it, the bespectacled Pronger gives off the aura of a studious executive as he continues his work in the NHL’s department of player safety.

Being an executive is Pronger’s future, just as it was for previous Hall of Fame inductees Brendan Shanahan and Rob Blake. Pronger was once the subject of trouble and now joked that he’s the “hall monitor.”

“I’m learning an awful lot not only on the player safety side – I get to go to the GMs meetings and the board of governors meetings and kind of be a fly on the wall,” Pronger said. “It’s been a great opportunity to kind of learn the business side of the game.”

Post-concussion syndrome ended Pronger’s career in the fall of 2011 after he took a stick in the eye. He’s still under contract through the end of the 2016-17 season and is on the Arizona Coyotes’ roster after the Philadelphia Flyers traded his contract last summer.

Because it has been more than three years since his final game, the Hall of Fame clarified its bylaws to make Pronger eligible in 2015.

He goes in with fellow defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom, Phil Housley and Angela Ruggiero, forward Sergei Fedorov and builders Peter Karmanos Jr. and Bill Hay.

Pronger still has problems with his eye, but called the symptoms “manageable.” Even though Pronger is now 41, Flyers president Paul Holmgren hoped he’d still be playing.

“In my opinion if he’s still healthy today, he could still be a good player because when he had the puck, when he didn’t have the puck, he could slow the game down,” Holmgren said.

“He just had that innate ability to control the pace of a game because of his size and his hockey sense and his ability to make plays, his ability to defend.”

In player safety, it’s Pronger’s job to help Stephane Quintal and the rest of the department dole out fines and suspensions. Commissioner Gary Bettman said Pronger has been “terrific” in his job.

“I remember when we decided to bring him aboard and he wanted to be a part of it, there was some commentary about how could you take a player as skilled and terrific as he was who had been disciplined eight times and put him in player safety,” Bettman said.

“That’s exactly what we wanted from him because he knows the game, he understands the game, he’s committed to the game and I think he’s thriving on the opportunity he’s had to be a part of the game again.”

Pronger said he has a greater appreciation now for the effect of concussions and other injuries than he did several years ago. In a fan forum over the weekend, he said concussions should continue to trend downward as players are more educated.

“I see it getting better,” Pronger said. “The game is very fast and reactionary. … It’s more the targeted, predatory stuff that we’re trying to eliminate.”

Pronger was known for some of that himself, by his own admission. And the NHL’s rules have changed to go against some of the stuff he was best at.

And yet executives still consider a place for players such as Pronger today, in part because he’s smart enough to adjust his game.

“The game’s changed, but it’s still a man’s game,” Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke said. “It’s still belligerence and testosterone and fearlessness. These are still valuable commodities to us.”

Pronger’s eagerness to play on and over the edge is also important now as he polices the NHL.

“He’s been very, very successful,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “He’s added a different insight, a different perspective, which has been very valuable to Stephane Quintal and his team. Does it surprise me? Not at all because he’s a smart guy, he’s thoughtful about the game.”

After recovering from concussion, Quincey may now need ankle surgery

Detroit Red Wings v Columbus Blue Jackets
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Detroit defenseman Kyle Quincey is over the concussion symptoms that’ve sidelined him since Oct. 23.

But now he’s got a new health concern to deal with.

Quincey will meet with a doctor next week to decide if he should undergo surgery on his ailing ankle, which he hurt during training camp after stepping on teammate Justin Abdelkader‘s skate.

More, from the Free Press:

Quincey said he could miss six weeks if he has surgery.

“There’s issues going on in there that need to be addressed,” Quincey said after the team practiced today at the Taylor Sportsplex.

Quincey had surgery to remove bone chips from his left ankle during the off-season and said that the latest injury is similar.

The 30-year-old was off to a nice start this season, with three points in his first three games while averaging 18 minutes per night. He’d also been pretty durable over the last two seasons — missing just nine games all told — and the Wings could certainly use his presence in the lineup, given they’re also without veteran d-man Mike Green.

With Green and Quincey out, Detroit has been icing a blueline comprised of Danny DeKeyser, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Brendan Smith, Alexey Marchenko and Jakub Kindl.

The injuries forced first-year head coach Jeff Blashill to lean heavily on Kronwall, who over a three-game stretch in late October played 27:04 minutes against the Canucks, 22:51 against the ‘Canes and 25:48 against the Senators.

Banged-up Blues get Fabbri (concussion) back after six-game absence

Robby Fabbri, Mattias Janmark-Nylen

ST. LOUIS (AP) — In the St. Louis Blues’ first game without top forwards Jaden Schwartz and Paul Stastny, it took players a while to adjust.

Coach Ken Hitchcock pointed out that his players have no choice.

Stastny is out at least another month with a broken right foot and Schwartz will be re-evaluated in three months after surgery for a fractured left ankle sustained in a freak practice accident on Friday. Schwartz had 63 points last season and Stastny had 46 points, and had five points in five games this season.

A third forward, Patrik Berglund, isn’t expected back until January after shoulder surgery.

Some help is on the way. The Blues anticipate activating All-Star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (groin) and promising rookie Robby Fabbri (concussion) in time for Tuesday night’s game against Tampa Bay. The 19-year-old Fabbri was a first-round pick in 2014 and has been a high scorer in juniors.

Still, it’s going to take a group effort to compensate for all of that lost offense.

The Blues turned up the intensity across the board on Saturday, erasing a two-goal third-period deficit before losing 3-2 in overtime to the Islanders. They outshot New York 15-2 in the third.

“I think we’re going to have to get a little creative with what we do with our roster, and we’re going to have to get more from certain people,” Hitchcock said. “But if we keep up with our work ethic, we keep our spirit up, we’re going to get through this thing and hopefully come out better.”

The malaise was evident at the start of the Islanders game when the Blues won just 5 of 15 of face-offs in the first period. Hitchcock noted a lack of aggressive checking.

“We weren’t sharp off the bat,” goalie Brian Elliott said. “We did a great job just kind of settling down and kind of taking over the game.”

The bottom line is that they salvaged something, and that’s important right now.

“To lose in overtime is a disappointment but you have to be happy with the one point and kind of move on from it and learn from that start,” Elliott said. “We had a lot of good things so you can’t hang your head too much.”

Besides Shattenkirk and Fabbri, the Blues will lean heavier on young Dmitrij Jaskin. They can give increased roles to veterans Scott Gomez and Scottie Upshall, too. Both made the team as tryouts.

“We’ve got to manufacture points, we’ve got to manufacture goals,” Hitchcock said. “It’s not going to come as smooth and as easy as it once did.”

Upshall was supposed to be in the lineup Saturday but became ill about an hour before game-time.

“We know we’re anticipating that Shattenkirk and Fabbri will be back in on Tuesday,” Hitchcock said. “I’m sure Upshall will be back in, so we’re going to get a little bit of stability.”

Rookie defenseman Colton Parayko has stepped in from the start, showing a knack for offense along with solid play on the back line. He had a goal and assist in the Saturday surge. The Blues can always lean on strong net-minding with Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties.

“It’s just about guys stepping up and filling roles,” Elliott said. “We lost some big-time players and now it’s opportunities.”

Sens lose MacArthur, Methot to concussions

Erik Karlsson , Clarke MacArthur , Marc Methot

Tough news out of Ottawa this morning, as Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that forward Clarke MacArthur and d-man Marc Methot have both been sidelined with concussions.

MacArthur hasn’t played since getting knocked out of last Wednesday’s 7-3 win over Columbus. Methot suffered his concussion in a 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh, and sat out this weekend’s shootout defeat to Nashville.

The losses are going to hurt the Sens, no question.

MacArthur has been a good offensive contributor, with 91 points over the last two seasons, and the Sens got a taste of what life without him was like last season, as he missed 20 games (also with a concussion).

Without him in the lineup, the Sens have been forced to juggle their forward lines. That’s been an issue for MacArthur’s frequent linemate, Bobby Ryan, who’s now trying to find chemistry with Mika Zibanejad and Milan Michalek.

As for Methot, he also missed extensive time to injury last season — nearly half the year with a back injury — but came back and performed well enough to score a four-year, $19.6 million extension in February.

Through five games this year, Methot was averaging over 20 minutes per night.

Franzen placed on IR after concussion symptoms return

David Krejci, Johan Franzen
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Johan Franzen has been placed on injured reserve, as the 35-year-old’s concussion issues have apparently returned.

From the Red Wings’ website:

Franzen, who suffered a concussion in Edmonton last Jan. 6, made it through training camp, preseason and the first two games of the regular season, has seen his symptoms return.

Franzen was supposed to play Tuesday against Tampa Bay and participated in the morning skate but did not feel well afterward and was a late scratch.

Signed through 2019-20, Franzen’s 11-year deal was intended to run until he retired, something he’s said he wants to do “on my own terms.”

Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more like those terms could be decided by matters beyond his control.

Hopefully we’re wrong about that and this is just a temporary setback, but we’ve seen how these things can go with other players.

There was more Wings injury news today, including Darren Helm taking “a little step back” after yesterday’s optimism and Luke Glendening possibly being unavailable tomorrow versus Carolina after blocking a shot Tuesday.