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Flyers finally admit Pronger will never play again

Oct 15, 2013, 6:38 PM EDT

prongerdonegetty Getty Images

Chris Pronger‘s unofficial retirement ranks pretty high among hockey’s worst-kept secrets, yet in all likelihood, the Philadelphia Flyers kept it that way for cap reasons. GM Paul Holmgren finally admitted the obvious to the Hockey News on Monday, though.

“I’ll say it, Chris is never going to play again,” Holmgren said. “I have no problems saying it.”

Of course, that brings up a different question: will the NHL have a problem with the Flyers admitting he’s done, yet keeping him on the long-term injured reserve to avoid the 35+ cap penalty that would come with his retirement?

Pronger’s $4.94 million cap hit runs through the 2016-17 season.  He’s still in the window in which he’s getting paid a higher salary than that $4.94 million cap hit, as Pronger’s deal came in the middle of that run of loophole contracts:

2013-14: $7 million, $1 million bonus
2014-15: $4 million
2015-16: $575K
2016-17: $575K

He hasn’t played in a game since Nov. 19, 2011 after briefing playing despite a frightening eye injury suffered a month earlier.

Will the NHL make Holmgren regret that statement as much as he probably regrets signing Pronger, 39, to that contract? We’ll see.

(H/T to Philly.com.)

  1. jakreidler - Oct 15, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    It was getting pretty old seeing him active on NHL12-14.

  2. curioustraveler13 - Oct 15, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    I feel no sympathy for the flyers organization if the NHL makes them keep his cap hit on the book after saying this. They knew the rules when they signed him to the deal, and the NHL gave each team two buyouts to use. It’s not the leagues fault that the flyers had more then 2 regrettable contracts, and try to cheat their way out of a third one. All that aside I hope pronger has a successful post hockey playing life and career. I hope his life isn’t too negatively affected from his injuries on the ice. Best of luck pronger.

    • phillyphanatic77 - Oct 15, 2013 at 7:08 PM

      Except you can’t buyout a player on LTIR until they’ve been cleared by a doctor and eligible for game shape, which will never happen with Pronger… so exactly how is this cheating? Are the Bruins cheating with Savard? Nope it’s just cause we have another uninformed Flyers hater who thinks he’s judge, jury, and executioner, yet doesn’t understand the rules.

      • curioustraveler13 - Oct 15, 2013 at 7:46 PM

        He’s not on LTIR during the offseason. If he retires they can buy him out. I do know the rules. Nice try.

      • ejbigg - Oct 15, 2013 at 7:59 PM

        The technicality of whether he is on LTIR in the offseason or not does not matter. You can not buy out an injured player.

        http://espn.go.com/nhl/story/_/id/8847030/

      • phillyphanatic77 - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:03 PM

        Thank you for clarifying what I was about to… you CANNOT buyout injured players. period. Pronger is injured, therefore the club cannot buy him out even if they wanted to.

      • curioustraveler13 - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:05 PM

        If he would retire you can buy him out. Period.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:24 PM

        No if he retires then the Flyers are stuck with most of his contract… that’s why he hasn’t. I don’t understanf how you can call it cheating when they’re following the NHL rulebook to a T. But if you’re so self-assured of your clearly inaccurate information then go right ahead thinking you’re right when you’re clearly wrong.

      • DonkeyStick - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:36 PM

        @curious…..you’re backtracking everything you said and making yourself look dumber and dumber with each reply. This from someone outside reading the posts…..LET IT GO!

        Good luck Pronger and thanks for the entertainment over the years!!!!

      • curioustraveler13 - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:39 PM

        They are stuck with his contract regardless. They just found a way to skirt around using his cap hit while using their other 2 buyouts. He gets his $ no matter what.

      • curioustraveler13 - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:41 PM

        Where did I backtrack?

      • desertfan - Oct 16, 2013 at 8:41 AM

        If he retires then he does NOT get paid!!!

      • curioustraveler13 - Oct 16, 2013 at 9:12 AM

        Yes he does. Holmgren made it so that his $ was guaranteed even if he had a career ending injury. Again nice try.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Oct 16, 2013 at 12:04 PM

        Curioustraveler you dumb SOB… EVERY SINGLE NHL contract is 100% guaranteed. Holmgren did not just magically give just one player a guaranteed deal. Yes there is the Over-35 rule but that doesn’t change the fact that every NHL contract is guaranteed.

      • curioustraveler13 - Oct 16, 2013 at 12:15 PM

        How am I dumb when I’m explaining that fact to people saying he won’t get his money if he retires? It’s your fans who don’t understand these basic facts. By the way phillyphantic have you realized they CAN buy out a retired players contract yet?

      • curioustraveler13 - Oct 16, 2013 at 12:20 PM

        Also there is a flaw in your logic. Kolvachuk retired voluntarily and the devils don’t have to pay him his contract. Just saying. Not everything is guaranteed. Pronger’s money is though.

      • curioustraveler13 - Oct 16, 2013 at 12:38 PM

        I understand you are upset with your team. I mean I would be mad too if my favorite team was 3rd in the league in spending and last in the league in standings. I wouldn’t be happy either if my favorite teams captain had less points then a triangle 7 games in. However to call me dumb for pointing out basic facts is just silly.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Oct 16, 2013 at 12:55 PM

        No Kovy’s contract didn’t just disappear, it was at the point in the contract when the payout was minimal. That’s why there were plenty of folks who thought it was a little too convenient of timing. EVERY NHL contract is guaranteed. That is fact.

      • curioustraveler13 - Oct 16, 2013 at 1:08 PM

        http://m.espn.go.com/general/story?storyId=9470677&city=newyork&src=desktop
        Read the article. In it lamoriello says kolvachuk’s contract is now void. Meaning he’s not guaranteed the rest of the money that was due to him.

      • curioustraveler13 - Oct 16, 2013 at 1:14 PM

        Also here is cap geeks # on kovy’s deal.

        http://www.capgeek.com/player/339

        His payout wasn’t minimal until 2019-2020 . Again nice try.

  3. firstand98 - Oct 15, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    awesome that the recent labor strife and resulting salary-cap restructuring was put in place to save the owners from… themselves.

  4. mclovinhockey - Oct 15, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    The NHL doesn’t technically have the right to do anything as long as pronger keeps showing up to the doctors.

    Homer also said they would not trade Carter or Richards. As much as I think it was dumb for Homer to say it and think even though I am a flyers fan the hit should count. The league really would have to break its rules for this.

  5. ufostomper - Oct 15, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    It doesn’t matter what anybody says, if he hasn’t officially retired the he’s not retired same deal with laperrier and many players around the league, it’s not cheating if you abide by the rules!

  6. ethanmacleod1685 - Oct 15, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    Man I miss this guy, they don’t breed defenceman like this anymore

    • canucks30 - Oct 16, 2013 at 12:50 AM

      Yup. Defenseman like Pronger, Stevens, Blake etc. pretty much don’t exist in today’s NHL. The only guys who even come close are Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara.

      • shoobiedoobin - Oct 17, 2013 at 7:23 PM

        Dude those two newer dmen are better than the old ones you mentioned. Quit being a slave to nostalgia.

  7. esracerx46 - Oct 15, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    Even though we all knew he was done. Its still a sad day knowing that he is done for sure. Have fun managing this cap mess Homer.

  8. ufostomper - Oct 15, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    He still needs to be cleared shlt head, nice try tho

  9. President Charles Logan - Oct 15, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    An NHL legend for sure. The only true time he wasnt impressive is when Dustin Byfuglien pretty much owned and whored him in the last 4 games of the SC Finals a few years back.

  10. ufostomper - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    Thank you ejbigg was just about to post that link, so much for knowing the rules huh curious? #nicetry

  11. micklethepickle - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    Great player, but total prick on the ice (not speaking to his personality, just his on-ice “persona”). Absolutely dominant D-man, but lacked the class that would have made him a favorite of mine. So long, Chrissy….

  12. ufostomper - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:18 PM

    Umm why would a team buy a retired player out? Your not too bright huh?

    • curioustraveler13 - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:24 PM

      Because since they singed him after he was 35 years old his cap hit would count even if he retired. Your not pretty bright huh?

      • iHeartHockey31 - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:57 PM

        Retired players do not get paid. If a player retires, the team retains the player’s cap hit. This isn’t a financial obligation to the player [or a payment at all]. It’s a penalty imposed on the team for having previously attempted to manipulate a loophole in the previous CBA in an attempt to circumvent the salary cap.

        The cap hit resulting from a player retiring is a punishment. They can’t ‘buy’ their way out of it. [I'm sure in one way or another they can -- but not in a direct means per the language in the CBA]

  13. ufostomper - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    Omg I can’t deal with stupid people like this when they think they know everything and they clearly don’t I don’t know why it’s so hard to look up the rules, or understand that you can’t buy out an injured player or a retired one

    • curioustraveler13 - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:44 PM

      You didn’t know the 35 year older contract cap hit but I’m dumb. Where does it say you can’t buy out a retired player?

      • iHeartHockey31 - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:58 PM

        There’s nothing to buy out dumb-a$$ retired players DO NOT GET PAID!! They RETIRED!! The resulting cap hit is a PUNISHMENT!!

      • iHeartHockey31 - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:59 PM

        There isn’t anything to buy-out. A team doesn’t OWE a player anything when he retires.

  14. ufostomper - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    Yup that’s the point we have been trying to make but don’t act like the flyers are the only team that does this

  15. ufostomper - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    I absolutely did know about the 35 year old cap hit. You can look up the rules on retired players I’ve wasted enough time with you

    • curioustraveler13 - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:55 PM

      Iv looked it up and it says injured players can’t be bought out. It says nothing about retired players. Plus if you knew about the 35 Rule you wouldn’t ask why they would buy out a retired player.

      • hockeydon10 - Oct 15, 2013 at 9:38 PM

        Why would he retire? He’s still getting paid an awful lot of money just to walk away from that.

      • curioustraveler13 - Oct 16, 2013 at 9:18 AM

        Seriously you flyer fans are allergic to reading or something. His contract was GUARANTEED. Retiring does not make that guarantee null and void. He will get every penny of his contract even if he retired. Did I slow down enough for you there? Let me put if to you about her way retired pronger and LTIR pronger would have the same bank balance.

      • iHeartHockey31 - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:01 PM

        The ‘guarantee’ is NOT in reference to retirement & while applicable to injured players, the primary intent is to protect HEALTHY players from being dropped [or 'fired'] in the middle of a contract term with little or no penalty to the team.

        For example, if Roberto Luongo was an NFL quarterback with a contract similar to his NHL contract, since the NFL does NOT have Guaranteed Contracts, the Vancouver Canucks could have simply terminated his contract for no reason, with no financial payment due Luongo and ongoing penalizing cap hit. Likewise the Philadelphia Flyers wouldn’t have had to ‘buy-out’ Bryzgalov, they could have simply told him to go back to Russia & stopped sending him paychecks.

        Guaranteed Contracts make the NHL unique from other major because they guarantee players a job at a contracted salary for a set number of years. In order for a team to get out of an NHL guaranteed contract, the player is compensated financially AND the team incurs an ongoing penalty in the form of a reduction in available cap space. A Guaranteed Contract ensures players sustaining a season-ending injury early in the season, can’t have a contract terminated mid-term due to their inability to demonstrate their performance.

        It doesn’t guarantee a player will continue receiving his contracting salary because HE QUIT PLAYING HOCKEY.

  16. atwatercrushesokoye - Oct 15, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    hockeydon10: he was injured while playing, insurance will pay his contract out regardless of whether he retires or not. The Flyers are the only ones who benefit from him not retiring because then they don’t take the cap hit.

    Everything was fine, everyone was turning a blind eye (pardon the pun) to it until the worst GM in the league (which is saying something in a league where Craig MacTavish and Mike Gillis are employed) decided to essentially brag that the Flyers are working around the rules. If the 29 other governors start complaining loudly enough the league will have to step in and do something, remember there was really no rule against the initial Kovalchuk contract either until the NHL finally got irritated enough to change the rules and come down harshly on the Devils.

    • iHeartHockey31 - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:07 PM

      Insurance protects the team & reimburses or makes payments on behalf of the team for injured players. If Chris Pronger retires, the team is no longer financially obligated to pay his salary, thus the insurance company is going to cease their payments / reimbursements.

      The league has disability benefits and retirement benefits he’d be eligible for however he would no longer receive his contracted salary. For the 2013-14 season, Chris Pronger’s salary is $7M plus $1M bonus. If he retires [or quits or defects] he doesn’t receive the remainder of his salary for the year. He’d also be covered by the leagues disability and retirement medical benefits which likely differ from those afforded to an injured player on team’s [salaries] payroll.

  17. drone501 - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    where eiggleno superbowl

  18. mclovinhockey - Oct 16, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    So what you are trying to say is you think pronger should retire, then the flyers try to buy him out, in order to be bought out he would still have to pass the rules of a buyout meaning he would have to be cleared by doctors. So……….. It was a good idea but it has it’s holes.

    The flyers are not the only team to have done something similar, they are following the rules and still have to deal with a spending limit that includes prongers cap hit in the offseason. They are paying a price.

    • curioustraveler13 - Oct 16, 2013 at 1:38 PM

      A retired player is not subject to the same buy out rules as an active player. There are no holes, just people lack of knowledge on the rules.

      • iHeartHockey31 - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:22 PM

        I think it’s your lack of the definition of ‘RETIRE’.

  19. mclovinhockey - Oct 16, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    Oh and whoever called homer the worst GM in the league, maybe you should take a look at his moves, the points and the team.

    They lack motivation and heart, that has nothing to do with his job.

    This offseason the top forward, goalie and D in free agency all went to Philly.
    Last year he went after the top 3 as well.

    He was not the one who pulled the trigger on Bryz FYI.

    He moved a guy who was a 3rd liner in Philly (JVR) for a guy who is now their top D.

    If you think the carter or Richards deal was bad then you really have other problems.

    If you think trading Bob was a bad deal, remember, he is still not proven he can play a full season. Also in the long run (meaning with both deals and for the future), Mason a 2nd and a 3rd for Bob and Leighton looks like it could be a better deal for Philly if Mason stays this good. Stolid backing up Mason might be one of the better tandems in a few years.

    So the guy signs players to long contracts, I don’t think that’s enough to put him in the bottom 15 GMs of the league.

    • curioustraveler13 - Oct 16, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      Top 3 in the league in spending, dead last in standings. I would say that qualifies him for worst NHL GM.

  20. iHeartHockey31 - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    What is wrong with you people???

    Retired players DO NOT GET PAID!!! They’re voluntarily saying they don’t want to play hockey anymore and if they qualify can apply for retirement benefits from the leagues pension plan. In the case of a disabled player like Chris Pronger, if he chose to retire, he would no longer receive his contracted salary however he could apply for disability or would qualify to receive retirement benefits early due to his disability.

    If Chris Pronger chooses to retire, he forfeits the remainder of any salary that would be remaining on his contract.

    Teams can not buy-out injured players. The cap hit teams are responsible for if a player retires can’t be ‘bought out’ because it’s a PUNISHMENT instituted by the league for creating a contract which attempted to circumvent the salary cap by front loading a contract such that by the time a player is too old to play and ‘RETIRES’ the amount of salary he’d be forfeiting is so minimal [having already received the bulk of money due on his contract] that he doesn’t care about forfeiting it.

    You can’t sign a contract with a team, then decide for no reason what so ever you don’t want to play anymore AND expect that team is going to continue paying you — that’s what retirement is. The fact that Chris Pronger is unable to play due to his injury doesn’t change the meaning of the term retirement. If Chris Pronger choses to ‘retire’ [and no longer continue performing the responsibilities of a player on the team's LITR] he will no longer be paid by the team. The only insurance money he would receive is disability insurance.

    Teams are responsible for continuing to pay injured players for the entire length of their contract. While a team may have insurance policies that pay out such payments or reimburse the team under certain conditions, it is ultimately the teams responsibility to pay the player in accordance with his contract. The player can not be bought out and while the player is not medically cleared to play in games, may have other responsibilities to the team that need to be fulfilled.

    Chris Pronger’s salary this season in 7 million dollars in addition to the same benefits afforded to every other player for himself & his family. If he retires, he needs to apply for disability or retirement under the leagues pension plan and receives disability payments or a pension, and whatever benefits come along with those plans as defined by the CBA.

    If and when he decides to retire [1] the team is no longer obligated to pay him a salary based on his player contract and [2] the team will be penalized for having designed a contract with the intent to circumvent the salary cap by continuing to carry 1/2 his cap hit for twice the remaining years on his contract. That’s NOT A SALARY paid to a retired player, it’s a penalty imposed by the league which reduces the total amount of cap space available with which to sign other players. And they can’t PAY their way out of such a penalty or ‘buy-out’ anything because there’s nothing to pay for.

    Instead of exchanging links containing information written by other uninformed journalists & reporters, why don’t you read the actual CBA [available on the NHL.com website -- there's a link at the very bottom] to understand what it is your talking about.

    In what world does a player sign a multi-million dollar deal across several years. ‘retire’ mid way through the contract AND EXPECT TO CONTINUE BEING PAID??? An injured player has a choice of continuing to remain on the LTIR, receiving their contracted salary or RETIRING forfeiting the remainder of their contract [in the same way a non-injured player choosing to retire would] however is than eligible to apply for disability or retirement benefits because of his injury. [Or accept another job with the team provided such job wasn't promised at any point during the contract negotiations and doesn't violate a long list of non-inclusive rules defined in the CBA [designed to prevent teams from circumventing the salary cap by promising players lucrative no-show jobs for outlandish salaries].

    It seems some people don’t understand the concept of a guaranteed contract is. It DOES NOT mean a player can quit [or 'retire'] whenever he feels like it & continue to be paid by the team. It also wasn’t intended to protect injured players [although injured players ARE protected], It’s the opposite of a non-guanrateed contract which athletes in most of the other major sports have and was intended to protect HEALTHY players from being dropped or ‘fired’ for performing poorly or for no reason at all midway through a contract without any financial compensation or penalty to the team. They’re guaranteed to continue having a job at the agreed to salary! They are not guaranteed to get paid if they QUIT PLAYING or ‘RETIRE’.

    The CBA protects injured players from being bought out by stating teams are responsible to continue paying INJURED players salaries for the length of the players contracts.

  21. shoobiedoobin - Oct 17, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    Pronger ending his career against his will because of a concussion?

    If you don’t believe in karma, this could persuade you.

    So long idiot, hope you have plenty of headaches.

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