Paul Holmgren admits Chris Pronger will never play again

Paul Holmgren admits Chris Pronger will never play again

By now, pretty much everybody was already resigned to the fact that Chris Pronger was never going to appear in an NHL game again. That much isn’t news. The Flyers finally acknowledging the elephant in the room on the other hand…

In a story filed by Ken Campbell to The Hockey News, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren admits Pronger is retired for all intents and purposes. It’s believed to be the first time the team or a team executive has publicly stated that we’ve almost certainly seen the last of the great defenseman.

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

There’s just one problem with Holmgren coming out and saying that. Popular thinking is Pronger hasn’t formally retired so that the club can continue placing him and his roughly $5 million salary cap hit on long-term injured reserve.

But since Pronger turned 35 during the deal, the Flyers have no way out of absorbing the cap hit for the next four seasons. He isn’t going to retire because he’s due $7 million in salary next season and $4 million in 2014-15. If he were to retire, he’d forfeit the money and the Flyers would still be on the hook for the cap hit the next four seasons. They can’t buy him out because the CBA forbids teams from buying out injured players, but the Flyers do get the cap relief by keeping him on the long-term injury list, the same way the Boston Bruins are dealing with Marc Savard.

Over-35 contracts were designed to prevent teams from circumventing the CBA, but it’s almost certain neither Pronger nor Savard – whose $4-million cap hit also runs the next four seasons, though his isn’t a 35-plus deal – will play again.

It’s been no secret in Philadelphia the Flyers have pulling this maneuver in large part to circumvent the cap. Now that it’s out in the open, will the NHL step in and put a stop to it?

My guess is probably not. Holmgren’s quote may have given the game away, but he could just as easily claim that’s only one man’s opinion. He’s not a doctor, and he can’t speak to Pronger’s intentions.

Still, it’s somewhat surprising the league has allowed this to go on for another season. You have to wonder if/when they’ll step in.

Per Campbell, both Holmgren and Pronger’s agent have sought some kind of compromise with the NHL with regard to the over-35 rule, but no exemptions are anticipated at this time. Perhaps turning a blind eye to the accounting tricks are the best they will do.

Pronger hasn't suited up for the Flyers in nearly two full calendar years now and continues to suffer the effects of post-concussion syndrome. While reports have been increasingly optimistic about his improvement, his pro hockey days are likely long gone.

Campbell’s profile on Pronger is worth a read, as it touches on a variety of subjects including how the defenseman has transitioned into a front-office role with the Flyers.

>> Chris Pronger, still at large [THN]

What in the world was Carson Wentz wearing after win over Vikings?

What in the world was Carson Wentz wearing after win over Vikings?

While Carson Wentz may not have got a failing grade for his play on the field against the Vikings on Sunday, he bombed the sartorial decision he made postgame. 

Wentz wore a bold blue check sports coat over what looked like an Under Armour v-neck.

The consensus on TV and Twitter may have been that Wentz bombed, there was one big supporter in the locker room.

According to a source, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie actually complimented Wentz on the blazer after the win.


Future Phillie Mike Trout was loving the Eagles win, sung the fight song

Grading the Eagles' 21-10 win over the Vikings 


Best of NFL: Matthew Stafford's late TD pass leads Lions past Redskins

Best of NFL: Matthew Stafford's late TD pass leads Lions past Redskins

DETROIT -- Matthew Stafford threw a go-ahead, 18-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin with 16 seconds left.

The Lions (4-3) extended their winning streak to three games. The Redskins (4-3) had won four straight.

Stafford, who set up game-winning kicks in the previous two games, led his team to another win in the 100th game of his career. He was 18 of 29 for 266 yards, one TD and no turnovers.

Kirk Cousins scored a go-ahead TD on a 19-yard run with 1:05 left (see full recap).

4 interceptions power Giants past Rams in London
LONDON -- The Giants capitalized on four interceptions of Case Keenum in the first NFL game played at London's home of English rugby, a sold-out and raucous Twickenham Stadium.

Keenum, coming off the best start of his career, had the Rams at the Giants' 15-yard line with 50 seconds left when he lobbed a pass in the left corner of the end zone that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie easily picked off. Keenum's intended target, Brian Quick, failed to get the quarterback's audible and cut off his route early.

Keenum, who finished 32 of 53 for 291 yards and one touchdown, has thrown an interception on the Rams' final offensive play of the last three games. That likely will fuel debate on a potential quarterback change to overall No. 1 draft pick Jared Goff.

Landon Collins returned his first of two picks 44 yards for a second-quarter touchdown, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie also had two interceptions (see full recap).

Fitzpatrick relieves Smith, propels Jets to comeback win over Ravens
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.  -- Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced an injured Geno Smith and led the Jets on three scoring drives, and a rejuvenated defense came up with two rare interceptions.

Fitzpatrick came in for Smith in the second quarter and led the Jets on a go-ahead drive capped by a 13-yard touchdown catch by Matt Forte. Fitzpatrick finished 9 of 14 for 120 yards and a touchdown as the Jets (2-5) snapped a four-game losing streak.

Smith injured his right knee while taking a sack from Baltimore's Matthew Judon. Fitzpatrick was efficient after losing his job earlier in the week.

Joe Flacco started for Baltimore (3-4), loser of four in a row, after being questionable with a sore shoulder. He went a team-record 176 consecutive throws without an interception before Buster Skrine picked off his pass in the third quarter (see full recap).

Ajayi rushes for 200 yards in second straight game as Dolphins top  Bills
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Jay Ajayi tied an NFL record by surpassing 200 yards rushing for the second game in a row. Ajayi rushed for 214 yards in 29 carries after totaling 204 yards a week earlier in a win over Pittsburgh. He scored on a 4-yard run, and busted a 53-yarder when the Dolphins were pinned at their 3 and trailing in the fourth quarter.

The Dolphins (3-4) used an extra lineman much of the time to clear big holes for Ajayi, who tied the NFL record for consecutive 200-yard games held by O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams.

Miami overcame an 11-point deficit with 16 minutes left to end a four-game winning streak by the Bills (4-3) and beat them for only the second time in their past seven meetings.

Buffalo RB LeSean McCoy, ranked second in the NFL in rushing, started, but totaled only 11 yards in eight carries before departing with a hamstring problem (see full recap).

Luck improves to 8-0 vs. Titans in Colts' 34-26 win
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Andrew Luck threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jack Doyle with 1:55 left to put Indianapolis ahead to stay, and the Colts rallied to beat the Titans for their 10th straight win against their AFC South rival.

The Colts (3-4) came in having lost two of three, including blowing a 14-point lead in an overtime loss last week at Houston. But Luck he improved to 8-0 against the Titans with yet another comeback win. He finished with 353 yards passing and three TDs, the last after Tennessee went up 23-20.

T.Y. Hilton caught seven passes for 133 yards, including a 37-yard TD. The Colts shook off 12 penalties for 131 yards in pulling out their 15th win in 16 games against Tennessee.

The Titans (3-4) saw their two-game winning string end.

Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri kicked a pair of field goals, and the second, a 33-yarder with 3:46 left in the third quarter gave him an NFL record 43 consecutive field goals made (see full recap).