2011-12 Philadelphia Flyers: Why Chris Pronger's Health Is Still a Major Concern

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2011-12 Philadelphia Flyers: Why Chris Pronger's Health Is Still a Major Concern
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Philadelphia's preseason kicks off tonight with the first half of a home-and-home against the Maple Leafs in Toronto.

Philadelphia's roster has undergone a major overhaul since being swept out of the second round of the playoffs by the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, and tonight is the first chance for fans to get a look at Jaromir Jagr, Ilya Bryzgalov and all the new Flyers.

Even with all the changes, the most important player on the team is still Chris Pronger.  Pronger, officially named the 18th captain in franchise history last week, is in the process of recovering from four surgeries over the past year, the most recent to his back.

The 6'6", 36-year-old defenseman skated with the team Monday for the first time since the early playoff exit and subsequent surgeries, and is not expected in the lineup for the foreseeable future, but the organization is hopeful Pronger is on target to play opening night, Oct. 6 in Boston. 

While the general consensus regarding Pronger is the rehabilitation is working and he will be back at full strength for the long haul, concerns surrounding his health persist.  

Entering his 18th year in the league, Pronger will turn 37 in less than a month. Playing in only 53 games including the postseason in 2010-11, many wonder how much the grizzled veteran has left in the tank.  

Pronger's effect on the game, when healthy, is unquestionable. But given his recent history as well as the contractual and captaincy commitments made to him, the responsibility Pronger carries this season is greater than any other in his career.

With that said, here are the FIVE reasons Pronger's health could make or break the 2011-12 Philadelphia Flyers.  

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