When the Flyers traded for and acquired veteran Chris Pronger, I, along with most of Flyerdom, was ecstatic. Since the announcement of his indefinite-injury-due-to-concussion-symptoms status, my heart, like the rest of Flyers fans' hearts, has been broken.
Let me just get this off my chest: No one can really replace Chris Pronger.
If you can't read through Lauren Pronger's words at the Flyers Wives Fight for Lives Carnival and not feel your eyes water a little, you might not be a real fan of the team. I'm sorry, but it's that deep.
Pronger is on the eve of entering a long list of names that ended their career tragically in Orange and Black. Names like Pelle Lindbergh, Barry Ashbee, Bernie Parent and Keith Primeau are on that list.
The absences of those players much like Pronger are, for lack of better term, a dagger through the heart of the Philadelphia Flyers and their fans.
Nobody has ever quite replaced those players. However, as the saying goes, time heals all wounds.
The time for the Pronger void will be a long-time coming. In order to do so, the team will eventually have to turn the page.
In the offseason, more information will be known about Pronger's status. Few like myself hold on desperately that he can make another appearance for at least a swan song.
In order to heal the wound once it is at its deepest—knowing that Pronger is in fact done—the Flyers will have to acquire someone to fill that void.
They aren't just losing a hard-hitting defenseman with a wicked shot. They are losing a leader and master of the game; a player who, much like legendary quarterback Joe Montana was a coach on the field, was a coach on the ice.
The Flyers are visibly a different team without Pronger. He made his teammates better—just ask Matt Carle.
When the announcement is made that Pronger cannot and will not return, the Flyers need to find someone to carry the torch.
Allow me to present five players who fit that mold.