Well, here we are– sans captain.
When the Flyers traded Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, some of the concern surrounding the moves was over likely naming Chris Pronger – an aging, injury prone defenseman – captain. What if he got hurt? What if he only had a few years left in the tank? Those were both reasonable questions that came with disturbing answers. Now, one of those frightening consequences is coming to fruition, but for a reason that is as random as it is unfortunate.
Obviously, a concussion is not an injury based on age– so it’s not fair, nor accurate, to put blame on anyone. But, the reality is – based on many factors – that the Flyers had a lot of eggs in the Pronger basket. And as well as the team is playing right now, they are going to have to fill his void if they want to compete for the Stanley Cup. They're not built, as is, to win without him for a prolonged period.
Being Flyers captain has not been a desirous place to be. Four of the last six to hold the position have suffered a range of unfortunate fates: Keith Primeau (career ended due to concussions), Peter Forsberg (odd foot injury killed last few years of his career), Mike Richards (shot by Paul Holmgren), Pronger (???). And how ironic (unfortunate) is it that the week Eric Lindros returned to Philadelphia, the team's current captain's season was lost due to the same injury that plagued 88?
Will Pronger ever play again? None of us know. But it’s entirely possible that his career is over. The concussion is just the icing on the cake for a player who has suffered a myriad other injuries over the last few seasons. And the fact that yet another high-profile player may have a career shortened (or hampered) by a concussion will only further the bubbling debate surrounding head injuries in hockey (the HBO cameras don't hurt, either).
What about the Flyers, though? Well, Pronger will need to be replaced. The defense is not good enough as is, and the Flyers aren’t going to be able to outscore everybody, especially once the playoffs come around. At some point, they are going to have to win games by stopping the other team, and they’re not built to do that sans Pronger.
Oh yeah… and there's that whole Giroux thing, too.
The Flyers won – impressively, I might add – last night, 4-3. Some statisticals to put their early success in its proper context:
The Flyers move to 12-3-1 on the road this season, giving them 25 points in road games. In terms of points, it ties them with the 1979-80 team for the best road record after 16 games in franchise history (79-80 team was 10-1-5 for 25 points after 16 road games). It’s the most road wins in 16 road games in franchise history.
The Flyers won their seventh consecutive game. It’s the longest winning streak the Flyers have strung together since an eight-game streak from Jan. 6-19, 2002.
Your full highlights are after the jump.