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In today's NHL, there are a number of players who have the potential to be game-changers. There are very few who have the potential to change the course of a franchise. And there are only a handful of players with that potential that have ever made good on it. Chris Pronger is one of them.
Since the lockout, Chris Pronger is the only player to have led three different franchises to the Stanley Cup Finals (EDM, ANA, PHI) and one of only nine active players to be a member of the "Triple Gold Club", having won an Olympic Gold Medal, an IIHF World Championship Gold Medal, and the Stanley Cup.
When healthy, he is widely considered to be one of the NHL's top 3 defenseman, even at age 36. And off the ice, he is recognized as one of the great locker room leaders in the game, having worn the "C" for two different franchises (ANA and STL) and the "A" for one other (PHI).
With Pronger already three weeks behind in his off-season training due to back surgery, it is looking increasingly likely the team will be without its future Hall of Fame blueline anchor for at least the first part of the 2011-2012 season. When he does return, there is no player on the roster that will be more critical to the team's success than Pronger.
A healthy Chris Pronger has the ability to lead a young, inexperienced team to the promised land, dominate play on the ice and make a lot of growing pains disappear.