MONTREAL The look on Scott Hartnells face said it all. He was simply in shock. He had no idea that Chris Pronger was done for the season.
None of the Flyers knew until after the game when informed by media that their captain would not be coming back this season (see story.)
Thats new to me I dont know if any of the guys know, Hartnell said after a 4-3 win over Montreal (see story). Obviously, thats devastating, to say the least.
Hes a presence. Thats the best I can say about him. Hes a presence in the room, a presence on the ice and he was a big factor in our run a couple years ago. When hes in the lineup, he brings a lot of intangibles other guys cant bring.
To some extent, this adds closure to Prongers questionable status all these weeks, but perhaps not for the players.
Id rather keep wondering if theres a chance he can come back, Hartnell said, implying the playoffs.
Obviously, I dont know what the doctor said in Pittsburgh or what happened. Its a big loss. But weve been playing well without him and have to keep battling.
Player after player seemed stunned. Braydon Coburn, who said yesterday when he last talked to Pronger he seemed upbeat, refused to believe the news until PR representative Zack Hill confirmed it for him.
Hes probably going through a tough time, Coburn finally said. Chris is a strong guy and a strong personality. He is obviously been around the block, too. If he was here right know, hed be saying something salty.
He still has a strong leadership voice in our room like Lappy Ian Laperriere was last year. He was always around.
With the young D-corps that we have right now, Chris is going to sticking his nose in there, giving a lot of advice, pointers and encouragement.
Defenseman Andrej Meszaros backed that up, adding that the one bright spot has been the play of rookie blue liners Marc-Andre Bourdon and Kevin Marshall.
We have to step up for him and get better, he said. Even though Chris is out and Andreas Lilja is too, Marshy and Marc-Andre are playing pretty good. Theyre young and still learning. Theyre doing a pretty good job so far, which is nice to see.
Max Talbot understands this better than most players. He was on the Penguins last season when Sidney Crosby was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, though the club never announced Crosby would not be back, even though he skated with the team during the playoffs.
You have to get prepared every game, Talbot said. Youre missing big guys and everyone needs to chip in a little bit more. Im not saying, changing your role, but Im saying working harder and guys like Bourdon, hes stepping up.
Last year, when Sid went out, we had young guys coming in from the AHL and playing a big role for us. Its tough. When you lose your captain, you are losing big leadership. At the same time, everyone has to give a bit more.
Hes a huge part of this team. But we need to keep on playing hard and win some games.
As Hartnell walked away, he turned and said, Obviously, were upset about it. Ill give Pronger a call when I get out of here.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at firstname.lastname@example.org.