The Flyers’ star defenseman is playing mind-games with the Hawks.By SHAY RODDY Managing Editor — firstname.lastname@example.org ________
The talk of the media sessions today had a lot to do with something you probably wouldn’t expect to garner much attention in the midst of a Stanley Cup Final. In fact, one of the hottest topics on reporters minds was what happened with the puck after the games.
That’s right, I said after.
The talk today wasn’t about what the team needs to do better when the series shifts back to Philadelphia Wednesday with the Flyers trailing 2-0. Reporters weren’t asking about where the puck was during the game at certain points when it could have been in the Blackhawks’ net. Instead, they were pressing head coach Peter Laviolette about what had happened to the puck once the clock hit :00 after last night’s 2-1 loss.
If you didn’t know already, the Blackhawks have a tradition of keeping pucks from games that they won. Well, apparently these last two days that tradition has been interrupted by towering Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger. After Games 1 and 2 in Chicago, Proger has collected the puck after the game and skated back to the Flyers’ dressing room with it.
Last night, NBC cameras showed things getting heated between Pronger and Blackhawks forward Ben Eager. Pronger was seen throwing a towel at Eager and skating off with the puck. Both were issued 10-minute misconducts which will have no effect on their availability in Game 3.
Head coach Peter Laviolette was asked about the confrontation today, and seemed to find the whole ordeal pretty funny.
“I think it’s kind of comical,” Laviolette said. “If Chris Pronger wants the puck, he can have it as far as I’m concerned.”
As for the yelling match heading off the ice, the coach doesn’t seem to be concerned. “I don’t have problems with that; I don’t know what the big deal is,” Laviolette said.
But then comes the question, why. Is Pronger simply doing this for his own amusement or is he trying to sneakily accomplish something for the Flyers, who have their work cut out for them in what remains of these Stanley Cup Finals?
It could be that he quite simply enjoys the cat-and-mouse games with the opponents. But Pronger is a smart leader and a proven winner, so it’s hard to ignore that there could be something behind what seems to be a harmless, but random act of jackassery.
Maybe it’s his way to divert the pressure. Obviously there’s a lot of added pressure that comes along with being on the game’s ultimate stage. Pronger knows it and maybe this is just a little something to lighten up the Flyers dressing room.
Or maybe he really just wants to get under the skin of the Hawks and make them lose focus on the task at hand.
But could that add any incentive for the Hawks? Laviolette doesn’t think so.
“So what is it that the Hawks are gonna do? What added incentive do they have now? They’re mad? They’re angry? It’s the playoffs. We’re gonna show up and we’re gonna compete like hell tomorrow night, I promise you that.
“I don’t know what else they’re gonna do because we stole their puck. I think it’s funny. Just like you guys are laughing now. It’s kind of comical. If Prongs wants the puck, take it.”
Let’s just hope that Pronger’s mind-games work. Because the Flyers need any boost they can get. History proves the task at hand unlikely, but maybe Pronger’s thievery will be another chapter in the book about the team who thrived when the path toward victory seemed almost impossible to follow.