Flyers finally admit Pronger will never play again

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Chris Pronger’s unofficial retirement ranks pretty high among hockey’s worst-kept secrets, yet in all likelihood, the Philadelphia Flyers kept it that way for cap reasons. GM Paul Holmgren finally admitted the obvious to the Hockey News on Monday, though.

“I’ll say it, Chris is never going to play again,” Holmgren said. “I have no problems saying it.”

Of course, that brings up a different question: will the NHL have a problem with the Flyers admitting he’s done, yet keeping him on the long-term injured reserve to avoid the 35+ cap penalty that would come with his retirement?

Pronger’s $4.94 million cap hit runs through the 2016-17 season.  He’s still in the window in which he’s getting paid a higher salary than that $4.94 million cap hit, as Pronger’s deal came in the middle of that run of loophole contracts:

2013-14: $7 million, $1 million bonus
2014-15: $4 million
2015-16: $575K
2016-17: $575K

He hasn’t played in a game since Nov. 19, 2011 after briefing playing despite a frightening eye injury suffered a month earlier.

Will the NHL make Holmgren regret that statement as much as he probably regrets signing Pronger, 39, to that contract? We’ll see.

(H/T to Philly.com.)