Flyers GM Paul Holmgren left the door open, ever so slightly, that injured defenseman Chris Pronger could return for the playoffs.
On Thursday, Holmgren announced that Pronger will miss the rest of the season and the playoffs because of a concussion.
Asked hypothetically on Friday what would happen if Pronger was feeling better as the playoffs arrived, Holmgren said, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I think right now Chris is not an option. If he gets better somewhere over the next month (or) months, we'll address that when we get there."
During a news conference at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, Holmgren said Pronger's concussion started when he was hit in the right eye by a stick against Toronto on Oct. 24. As it turned out, he unknowingly played five games with a concussion.
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With Pronger sidelined for the rest of the season, should the Flyers name a substitute captain for the rest of 2011-12?
Holmgren said he was leaning toward NOT replacing him as captain.
I can see it both ways.
Some think the team needs a captain, needs someone to look up to and take command _ in the locker room and on the ice.
To me, having three alternates has worked just fine. As a tribute to Pronger, why not play the rest of the season for him _ and honor No. 20 by not naming another captain?
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If the Flyers do name a captain, it figures to be Kimmo Timonen or Danny Briere. Either would be a great choice, but, again, is it really necessary?
Both are currently alternates. The other "A" can be rotated among Max Talbot, Claude Giroux (when healthy), Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell.
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When Tom Sestito is sent back to the Phantoms, the Flyers will have $3.4 million of cap space. Pronger had already been on the LTIR list, so his cap hit was not counting.
Many fans want Nashville's Shea Weber (who wouldn't want him?), but his $7.5 million cap hit makes him almost impossible to acquire.
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So do the Flyers make a deal for a veteran defenseman?
The Flyers have the luxury of having four talented, veteran defensemen; they are deeper than most teams at the blue line even without Pronger.
Erik Gustafsson (a young version of Timonen?) will return from a wrist injury in about a week, and Marc-Andre Bourdon, another rookie, has played well. Play those two rookies for six weeks or so and THEN decide if you need to add someone.
The Flyers have veterans Andreas Lilja and Matt Walker as insurance policies, and rookie Kevin Marshall has fit in well.
The trade deadline is Feb. 27.
BTW, there is a holiday trade-freeze period that runs from midnight tonight to Dec. 27.
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If we have seen the last of Pronger _ and no one will know for a long time _ he will be remembered as one of best the defensemen in NHL history. If I had to guess, knowing his competitive nature, I believe he will try to come back next season.
Doctors figure to steer him one way or the other.
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For the first time, Holmgren revealed that winger Matt Read was sidelined earlier this season because of a concussion. He missed three games.
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Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.
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