1 of 12Michael J. LeBrecht II/1Deuce3 Photography for Sports Illustrated
With his 18-season NHL career in jeopardy, Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger visited the team's Skate Zone facility in Voorhees, NJ, and spoke to SI about his ongoing battle with post-concussion symptoms and a debilitating eye injury. You can watch the video of his interview and read Brian Cazeneuve's feature story in the April 22 issue of <italics>Sports Illustrated</italics>. Here's a look back at Pronger's distinguished and surely Hall of Fame career.
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Chris Pronger, 19, was taken by the Hartford Whalers second overall at the 1993 NHL Draft in Quebec City. (GM Brian Burke, right, made two trades to land the pick; center Alexandre Daigle went first to the Ottawa Senators.) A punishing, mobile defender with scoring punch, the highly-touted Pronger starred for the OHL Peterborough Petes before jumping to the NHL immediately after the draft. As a rookie in 1993-94, he scored five goals and 31 points in 81 regular season games, and had much potential to fulfill.
3 of 12David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated
After two seasons, the struggling Whalers traded the menacing but still improving blueliner to St. Louis for winger Brendan Shanahan in August 1995. Pronger spent nine seasons with St. Louis, blossoming into a Norris Trophy contender and All-Star. He was named team captain in 1997 and helped the Blues reach the playoffs each season that he played in St. Louis.
4 of 12David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated
Pronger's physical style of play exacted a price. During the 1998 playoffs, he was hit in the chest by a slap shot and suffered cardiac arrest. Injuries disrupted his 2000-01 season, limited him to five regular season games in 2002-03, and imperiled his career in 2011.
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Pronger and Al MacInnis (#2) were a formidable defense pair for the Blues. See where the two blueliners rank in Brian Cazeneuve's <italics>Top 20 Defenseman of the Post-Bobby Orr Era</italics> gallery.
6 of 12Frank Gunn/AP
In June 2000, Pronger won the Norris Trophy (right) as the NHL's top defenseman and became the first blueliner since Bobby Orr to win the Hart Trophy (left) as league MVP. That season, he scored 62 points (14 goals, 48 assists), made his second All-Star Game appearance, and led the league in plus/minus (+52).
7 of 12David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated
At the Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Pronger won the first of his two Olympic gold medals while playing for Team Canada. Among the members of the star-studded squad that captured Canada's first gold in 52 years were (from top left): Ed Jovanovski, Pronger, Mario Lemieux, Michael Peca, Martin Brodeur, and Scott Niedermayer.
8 of 12David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated
Pronger spent a season with Edmonton after his August 2005 trade from St. Louis for defensemen Eric Brewer, Doug Lynch and Jeff Woywitka. Contributing his usual tough, smart play and a team-leading 21 points in 24 postseason games, he led the upstart Oilers on a surprising run all the way to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, where they fell to Carolina.
9 of 12Lou Capozzola/Sports Illustrated
A requested trade sent Pronger to Anaheim in July 2006 (for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid, first-round picks in 2007 and '08, plus a 2008 second-rounder) and ultimately brought him his first and likely only Stanley Cup. The Ducks' second-leading playoff scorer, and an anchor on their blueline, he was a key to their playoff juggernaut that went 16-5 on the way to a five-game Cup final win over Ottawa.
10 of 12Dave Sandford/Getty Images
During his three seasons with the Ducks, Pronger was chosen to play in the 2008 NHL All-Star Game, the last of his five appearances. Here he poses with his sons George and Jack before the SuperSkills competition at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
11 of 12Robert Beck, Bob Martin/Sports Illustrated
Pronger was a member of Canada's 2010 Olympic team that beat Team USA in an epic gold medal game in Vancouver when Sidney Crosby scored in overtime.
12 of 12Lou Capozzola/Sports Illustrated
After being traded in June 2009 to the Flyers (for Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa, a 2009 first-rounder, and future considerations), Pronger -- whose style was ideal for hard nosed Philadelphia -- helped lead his new team to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. The Flyers fell to the Blackhawks in six games, but the series was memorable for Pronger's battles with Chicago's outsized defenseman-turned-power forward, Dustin "Big Buff" Byfuglien (not pictured).
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