Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Everyone is talking about Chris Pronger - Mission Accomplished!
A few quick thoughts from TVOS on “Puck-Gate”...
In a move reminiscent of Wayne Gretzky’s 2002 Olympic “Don’t blame the players” speech, Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger made himself the focus on the off day between Game 2 and 3 in the Stanley Cup Finals. While there was still plenty of hockey talk during the press conferences, everyone had to ask and then weigh in on Chris Pronger’s thievery - taking the game pucks in Chicago. The fact that the Flyers top forwards have yet to take-off, or that Michael Leighton has struggled at times in net, and that Chicago is two wins away from eliminating the Flyers seemed secondary to Pronger’s actions.
The Flyers defenceman leads the league in ice time, averaging 28:56 minutes per game and his 16 post season points is tops among defencemen (and 11th overall) and he has been very effective at limiting the damage from Toews and Kane. Chicago’s young guns have zero points and only eight shots combined in the first two games of the series. Will Pronger’s actions or comments after the game fire up the Blackhawks? To put it bluntly - No, this is the Stanley Cup Finals, if you are not fired up already, perhaps you are in the wrong profession.
“I can tell you we didn’t talk about it - that did not come up,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said yesterday. “We didn’t talk about who was going to steal the puck in Game 3.”
Playing at home, the tradition states that it would already be the Flyers puck, so it would be up to someone on Chicago to grab it if the thievery is to continue...
Chicago forward Patrick Sharp laughed at the puck debate yesterday, saying with a smile, “We’re thinking about hockey, if he wants the puck he can have it.”
Sharp has played over 400 games in the NHL, he knows what Pronger is up to, but will some of the younger Blackhawks be able to keep their cool when Game 3 begins? While the Hawks are saying all the right things to the media, I have to wonder, is someone in their dressing room secretly contemplating grabbing the puck after Game 3 to “get even”? Besides distracting from his own team’s mistakes, perhaps Pronger has planted a seed of foolishness in the Hawks. Will the battles in front of the Flyers’ net become a little more heated, as the Chicago players try to get the last shot in on Pronger? An elbow or an extra crosscheck or two? If a parade to the penalty box starts, then Pronger has done his job; the one or two extra power plays awarded to Philadelphia could make the difference in the final outcome of the game.
Described as poor sportsmanship, gamesmanship, classless and juvenile; the simple fact is, Chris Pronger's “taking” of the puck after games one and two in Chicago has everyone talking about Chris Pronger, not the Flyers 0-2 deficit in the Stanley Cup Finals. A genius move by a wily veteran in his third Stanley Cup Final; I would say mission accomplished Chris!
Photo by Dinur on Flickr.com