Former Flyers star Chris Pronger returning to ice for alumni game
More than four years after he played his last NHL game while with the Flyers, Hall-of-Fame defenseman Chris Pronger will be back on the ice Saturday afternoon.
Forced to retire because of concussion symptoms, Pronger, 42, will play for St. Louis in the Winter Classic Alumni Game against Chicago at Busch Stadium.
He played his final game, in Winnipeg, on Nov. 19, 2011. It was his fifth game after returning from an ocular concussion.
"I'm sure it will be a little emotional to get back on the ice and skate around and play in the game," Pronger told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I don't really know what to expect, how I'm going to feel. But I do know one thing _ that I only know how to play the game one way. So, hey, we'll see how it goes."
The Flyers have been searching for a No. 1 defenseman _ someone that keeps the crease clear _ since Pronger's career-ending injury.
Pronger put on his gear for the first time in four-plus years and skated with his son's team two weeks ago.
"It just so happened they were getting bagged skated, so I was thrown right into the fire quickly with all my gear," he said. "But it will be a lot of fun to get back out there with the guys that I played a good portion of my career with."
Added Pronger: "I think in walking around town and talking to people, the fans are almost more excited to see the old guard than they are the game, the Winter Classic real game. Everybody is fired up to see the old guys get after it."
In addition to Pronger, the Blues alumni roster will include Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, Al MacInnis, Bernie Federko, Adam Oates, and Peter Stastny.
Pronger and the Blues' alumni association are donating $200 for every St. Louis goal to help the family of a seven-year-old boy who was recently diagnosed with leukemia. He is the son of his daughter's second-grade teacher.
"How quickly your life can change," Pronger told NHL.com. "It could happen to anybody."
Pronger is not playing in the Flyers alumni game Jan. 14 against the Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center at 7 p.m. Tickets are still available.
That game will feature the best two lines in Flyers history: Bobby Clarke centering Bill Barber and Reggie Leach, and Eric Lindros centering John LeClair and Mikael Renberg.
Leach will play against his son, Jamie, a former Penguin.
The Penguins' roster will be highlighted by Bryan Trottier.
Mario Lemieux is not playing. Neither is Rick Tocchet, who played on both teams. Tocchet is now a Penguins assistant and has to attend Pittsburgh's game in Detroit.