Chris Pronger and 10 NHL Careers Tragically Cut Short Due to Injury

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IMarch 21, 2013

Chris Pronger and 10 NHL Careers Tragically Cut Short Due to Injury

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    NHL hockey is a fast and physical game, and players often get hurt. Some have their careers cut short while they are still in their prime.

    Chris Pronger is the most recent example of an NHL player having their career cut short because of injury, but forwards like Pat LaFontaine, Eric Lindros, Peter Forsberg and assorted others had their careers ended way too soon.

    Here are 10 players, including Pronger, who had their career cut short because of an injury.

Peter Forsberg

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    Career Stats: 708 Games | 885 Points

    Peter Forsberg was never 100 percent healthy during his NHL career, and that is because he played an extremely physical game.

    Forsberg was a dynamic playmaker, and if he stayed healthy he probably would have been among the all-time leaders in scoring—he was that good of a player.

Eric Lindros

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    Career Stats: 760 Games | 865 Points

    The "Big E" was set to be the next big thing in the NHL, similar to how Sidney Crosby was heralded as the next big thing in the NHL once he was drafted.

    Lindros was an absolute truck when he had the puck, and he was able to skate very well for his size.

    The Philadelphia Flyers' star had it all, but multiple concussions ended his career a lot sooner that it should have.

Pat LaFontaine

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    Career Stats: 865 Games | 1013 Points

    Pat LaFontaine was a very dominant scorer for many teams, including the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders, but his career ended too soon.

    LaFontaine was another player who had the leave the NHL because of side effects from concussions. It's a shame—he could have been a lot better than he was if not for a debilitating head injury.

Chris Pronger

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    Career Stats: 1167 Games | 698 Points

    Chris Pronger was a physical and intimidating defenseman during his entire career, and he was one of the toughest players to lace up a pair of skates.

    Pronger made a living by punishing other players with his hellacious body checks and open ice hits. He also had a booming shot that made him an effective offensive players at times.

    His career ended abruptly due to side effects associated with a concussion suffered while he was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Paul Kariya

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    Career Stats: 989 Games | 989 Points

    Paul Kariya had the potential to be an amazing player, but injuries limited him to being just a good player.

    He was a point-per-game player through 989 games, and there is a good chance he would have finished with even more points had he not been impacted by concussions.

    Kariya was so dynamic and dominate for a smaller player, and it is a shame he couldn't have kept playing for more than 989 games.

Cam Neely

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    Career Stats: 726 Games | 694 Points

    During 13 seasons, Cam Neely only played in 726 games and tallied 694 points. Neely was a physical player who couldn't overcome knee injuries as a member of the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks.

    If you need any more proof that Neely could have been a better player than he was, take a look at the 1993-94 season in which he scored 50 goals in 49 games.

    Just imagine if he was able to play in 70 to 80 games a year, and then calculate what his production could have been.

Bobby Orr

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    Career Stats: 657 Games | 915 Points

    Bobby Orr is arguably the greatest offensive defenseman in the history of the NHL, and one can only imagine what numbers he would have put up if he had played healthy his entire career.

    Orr was limited to 657 games, and during that span he contributed 915 points.

    The Boston Bruins' defender was hampered by various injuries, and it is a shame he had to leave the game earlier then he wanted to.

Mario Lemieux

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    Career Stats: 915 Games | 1,723 Points

    Mario Lemieux is considered to be an all-time great player, but he could have been the greatest of all time if he had a longer career. In only 915 games, Lemieux tallied 1,723 points.

    That equates to a staggering 1.88 point-per-game average, one of the greatest in league history. Lemieux did a lot during his short career, and he remains one of the biggest "what if" questions in league history.

Maurice Richard

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    Career Stats: 978 Games | 965 Goals

    Maurice Richard only played 978 games over 18 seasons during his career, and injuries played a huge part in that.

    During that time, he put up 965 points. But the Rocket could have been a more dynamic and lethal scorer had his body not worn down.

    There is no doubt he was one of the greatest players to lace up a pair of skates, and there is a reason why he is immortalized with the "Rocket Richard" Trophy.

Mike Bossy

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    752 Games | 1,126 Points

    Mike Bossy retired from the NHL at age 30 after playing only 725 games because of back injuries.

    During that span, the New York Islanders' greatest player of all time tallied 1126 points and led the team to four Stanley Cups.

    During five of Bossy's last six seasons he had 117 points or more.