PHILADELPHIA – Chris Pronger isn’t ready to retire, even though a concussion specialist has advised him not to return to hockey.
The 2000 NHL MVP has not played for the Flyers since Nov. 19, 2011 and still suffers from lingering effects of multiple concussions. But he wouldn’t rule out attempting a return if physically possible.
“I’m just trying to get healthy and live a normal life and get better for myself and my family,” Pronger said Thursday. “The rest will take care of itself.”
Pronger hadn’t spoken publicly since Dec. 1, 2011. He said he still can’t run, or even skate hard. He’s bothered by bright lights and he’s lost some of his peripheral vision.
The 38-year-old Pronger joined the Flyers in 2009 and helped them reach the Stanley Cup Finals against Chicago that season. He played 50 games the following season and 13 last year.
Pronger said the symptoms changed his personality and left him depressed. It was difficult for his wife and three children to handle.
“You’re (ticked) off that you are not playing the game you love, that you can’t go do what you want to do every day,” he said. “Then you are even more (ticked) off because you got a headache and it’s getting worse and worse in your eyes and you’re light-headed and dizzy and your kid comes over and you snap.”
Pronger has been seeing neurologist Michael Collins at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for the past 15 months. Collins issued a statement advising Pronger to retire.
“I believe the best and safest advice is that he not play hockey anymore given the high likelihood of continued vulnerabilities,” Collins said.
The 6-foot-6 Pronger led Anaheim to the 2007 Stanley Cup title and won Olympic gold medals with Canada in 2002 and 2010. He signed a seven-year contract with Philadelphia in 2009.
He has 157 goals and 541 assists in 1,167 career regular-season games in 18 seasons with Hartford, St. Louis—where he won the Hart Trophy as league MVP—Edmonton, Anaheim and Philadelphia.
“It will be difficult, but the good things in life are never easy” Pronger said. “You have to set goals and try to push yourself to attain them and reach them. This is no different. I have to keep working at it.”