Flyers shut down Chris Pronger for season, playoffs

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Flyers fans’ worst fear has been confirmed: the team just announced that Chris Pronger will sit out the rest of the season and playoffs because of severe post-concussion syndrome. Here’s the official statement:

“After consultation with respected concussion specialists Dr. Joseph Maroon and Dr. Micky Collins, it is the opinion of both doctors that Chris is suffering from severe post-concussion syndrome. It is the recommendation of Doctors Maroon and Collins that Chris not return to play for the Philadelphia Flyers for the remainder of the 2011-12 season or playoffs.  Chris will continue to receive treatment and therapy with the hope that he can get better.”

Obviously, this is an enormous blow to the Flyers. A healthy Pronger is a huge difference-maker. That much was evident in the 2010 playoffs when the team came two wins short of a Stanley Cup despite interchanging between Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton in net. You can make a reasonable argument that Pronger deserved a Conn Smythe nod on three different occasions, so there’s no doubt he’ll be sorely missed.

The bigger worries go beyond this season, though. Pronger has a 35+ contract, so Philly will be on the hook for his $4.92 million cap hit through 2016-17 even if he retires. In a way, it seems like his health collapsed the second that regrettable deal became valid in 2010-11.

Hopefully Pronger will come back healthy – eventually – but considering his rugged style and severe mileage, his big-picture outlook is grim.