The next move in the Ultimate Hockey Chess Match took place during Sunday’s Game 5 match between the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers. Nope, I’m not talking about Chicago coach Joel Quenneville’s line changes or the game itself. Instead, I’m referring to the previously Pronger-dominated post-game tradition of players stealing the game puck.
This time around, Blackhawks tough guy Ben Eager snatched it up. ESPN Chicago describes the “significance” of the moment.
Eager grabbed the puck at the United Center as soon as the final horn sounded after the Hawks’ 7-4 victory gave them a 3-2 series lead over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger had grabbed the pucks after the Blackhawks’ victories in the first two games, and he said he threw them in the garbage, where they belonged.
Eager had scored the game-winner in Game 2, but he wasn’t able to keep the game puck as a souvenir. He and Pronger had words after that game and both were assessed misconduct penalties.
Here is a video of Eager scooping up the game puck, from NHL.com.
Sure, this story is silly, but it shows the psychological impact Pronger can have on a series. He’s the kind of player who can get in his opponents’ heads. The Blackhawks and Flyers don’t have much of a recent history with each other, but I get the feeling Chicago hates Pronger after five hostile Stanley Cup finals bouts.