Watching was the hardest part for Chris Pronger. It wasn’t the pain. It wasn’t the rehab. It was not being able to lace up and go out on the ice.
Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center, Pronger got his chance to return. And he didn’t come back quietly. Despite murmurs that Pronger would probably see significantly less ice time in his first game back since breaking a bone in his right foot Dec. 15, the Flyers star defenseman was back with a bang, racking up two points in over 20 minutes on the ice.
“[He looked] steady as he always does. He gets back in there, makes good decisions, and takes up a lot of space,” head coach Peter Laviolette said. “He had looked good in practice. It’s good to get him back going tonight; it’s good to get a win with him in there. I thought he did a good job.”
Pronger, who was cleared to practice back on January 12, didn’t show any signs of the injury Thursday night. At the morning skate Thursday he stood in front of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, deflecting pucks with no sign of pain.
“I’ve got the protective coverings on and they do a pretty good job dispersing the blow,” Pronger said following the skate.
Pronger blocked two shots in a circus of a 6-2 win against Ottawa. Still, the future Hall of Famer insists everything’s feeling just fine. “I don’t put numbers on things,” Pronger said. “Yeah, yeah. I’m feeling alright.”
It seems a little too convenient that Pronger chose to come back against two bottom of the league teams — Ottawa Thursday and New Jersey on Saturday — before Sunday’s rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup Finals, a date the puck thief has had circled for months.
Numbers or not, just know this: when the Flyers head to Chicago, Pronger will be ready. And he’s a piece the Flyers are thrilled to have back.