NHL announces Pronger’s player safety appointment

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As expected, the NHL has announced that Chris Pronger is now a member of the department of player safety.

The news that this would happen raised eyebrows because Pronger is still a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. A concussion ended his playing career in 2011, but he is nevertheless signed through the 2016-17 campaign. The Flyers get around his nearly $5 million annual cap hit by keeping him on the long-term injured reserve list, but they wouldn’t enjoy that protection if he retired.

If Pronger did go that route, it would be problematic for Philadelphia given that the team is up against the ceiling as it is, but it looks like he’ll be allowed to work for the NHL while remaining on the Flyers’ books. When he talked about the issue on Wednesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman didn’t see any problem with this outcome.

“If in fact we go in that route I’m not sure that presents any problem at all,” Bettman said at the time, per the Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott. “He’s done playing and he gets paid no matter what, from the Flyers. He doesn’t owe them anything.”

In an effort to avoid any potential conflict of interest though, Pronger won’t be involved in any deliberations that involve Philadelphia, according to the Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno. That’s not unprecedented, given that Patrick Burke doesn’t weigh in on matters involving the Calgary Flames due to his father’s (Brian Burke) role as team president.

Of course, you could ask if Pronger would still have a conflict of interest should he be asked to deliberate on matters involving one of the Flyers’ rivals.