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Chris Pronger is the ultimate captain. He's a big, strong, puck-moving defenseman who plays in every facet of the game.
Pronger matches up with the top offensive line every night. He is physical, cerebral and never afraid to speak his mind to the officials, opponents or teammates.
The 6' 6'', 1993 first-round pick has captained the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks. He has appeared in three of the last six Stanley Cup Finals, winning the title with Anaheim in 2007.
But most recently Pronger has been injured.
Pronger played in only 50 regular season games in 2010-11, his lowest total since playing in only five games with the St. Louis Blues in 2002-03.
Missing No. 20 on the ice and in the dressing room is the excuse for last year's collapse, and not having his presence in eight of 11 playoff games was the reason there were only 11 playoff games.
But rumor of Pronger's downfall is unwarranted.
In his 17 previous seasons, Pronger has averaged 68 regular season games per year, and has played in at least 70 games 11 of those 17 years.
Despite his recent eye injury, Pronger is expected back in the lineup in about two weeks.
Given his on-again-off-again injury status last season and surgeries preventing him from skating over the summer, it is going to take some time for Pronger to be at 100 percent both with his health and his game in general.
Once the Captain makes his return, visor and all, the Flyers will be better.
Once Pronger is at 100% they will be one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference.
Defensive zone coverage and point play five-on-five, penalty kill and power play. Big hits and long passes. Pronger effects every level of the game from match-ups to penalties drawn.
The Flyers traded for Pronger because he was seen as the missing piece to winning a Stanley Cup. Paul Holmgren surrendered Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa, two first-round draft picks and a third rounder. Even when Mike Richards was wearing the C the franchise was in Pronger's hands.
So be patient, and remember what this team looks like with Pronger. He's more than a player. His attitude resonates better play than we have seen over the past few games. It is ugly right now, but he will be back.
I do not expect injuries to continue to hinder the big man. Pronger played 200 NHL games between 2008-09 and 2009-10, and don't forget about seven games with Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Maybe at 37 his body is not suited for THAT type of schedule.
But after the maintenance he has had done and sufficient rest there is no reason to doubt Pronger can play out his contract, which expires for him at 42. Just look at Niklas Lidstrom and Teemu Selanne still producing.