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-   -   Is Chris Pronger's career a disappointment to you? (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showthread.php?t=1459059)

DisgruntledGoat 07-01-2013 12:58 PM

Is Chris Pronger's career a disappointment to you?
 
I off-handedly mentioned to a friend yesterday that I considered Pronger's career a bit of a disappointment, and he told me I was crazy.

His argument was bascially: Hall-of-Famer, second best D of his generation, won a Hart, had several all-world playoff runs. . . how could he possibly have been a disappointment?

My feeling is, though, he could have done more. Hear me out:

With the exception of Bobby Orr, I feel that Pronger is in the discussion as the most physically gifted defenseman of all-time. I mean, its kind of ridiculous when you start to break it down: huge, could skate, tremendous hockey IQ, best first pass of his era, 100 mph slapshot, poised with the puck, hits, blocks shots, shuts down top forwards, quarterbacks powerplays, mean as hell, insanely competitive. I don't if you could build a more complete defenseman if you tried.

And yet, he only won one Norris. He was clearly and substantially outpaced by Lidstrom, his contemporary. And all-time, he's not in the conversation with a Robinson or a Bourque or a Potvin.

I would take Pronger, in the best game of his career, over Lidstrom. I think he was the best defenseman I've ever seen in his own zone, and I think he made an impact all over the ice in a way that Lidstrom didn't. But he didn't do that in a consistent manner, the way Lidstrom did (who was one of the best of all-time at always being at or near top form).

That's where, IMO, Pronger is a bit of disappointment. Injuries, playoff meltdowns early in his career, and then taking it easy in regular seasons later in his career seem to have kept him from putting together an all-time type 15-to-20 year run. For all he did do, I feel its a disappointment that he did not have four or five Norrises, and is not in the conversation as fourth-to-tenth best D of all-time.

Thoughts?

struckbyaparkedcar 07-01-2013 01:29 PM

There's a wider gap in his peak/career value than you'd obviously like, but his peak is so freaking good that you'd have to be an absolute stickler for longevity to use the word disappointment and really mean it.

MS 07-01-2013 01:49 PM

2 things :

1) keep in mind that Pronger was routinely screwed over in award/All-Star voting because the media didn't like him. In particular the 2006 and 2007 Conn Smythe trophies, but also the 2007 Norris and various All-Star voting.

2) like Denis Potvin, injuries limited the amount of Norris trophies he won as well. He would have won in 2001, but missed 30 games. Likewise in 2007 he missed 16 (but IMO should have won anyway). And of course he lost the entire 2002-03 season through injury.

quoipourquoi 07-01-2013 01:54 PM

Largely agree.

There is a lot to say about consistency, and for that reason, healthy Pronger or not, Nicklas Lidstrom was going to go down as the best defenseman of the era. But healthy Pronger wins the 2000, 2001, and 2007 Norris Trophies in a walk, and probably finishes top-three in Hart voting each season. He was such a difference maker those three years when he had his team in striking distance of the President's Trophy (both the 2001 Blues and 2007 Ducks were the #1 teams prior to Pronger's injuries).

And such strange injuries in 2001: first having his knee wrecked by his own teammate, and then having his arm broken by another teammate as soon as he returned. Even the 2007 injury came from a simple blocked shot - not the types of injuries we would expect to specifically come from being a physically aggressive defenseman.

But outside of the 2006, 2007, and 2010 playoffs, he was never really at or near that same level. Quite good in the years leading up to his peak, but he never recaptured the magic for a full healthy season.

I don't think he was as bad in his early playoffs as people often say; the Blues were rarely the favorites in their series. In his entire career, he lost only two series to a team with fewer points: the 2000 San Jose Sharks and the 2008 Dallas Stars.

I posted the chart a million times, but still:

Series in which the Blues had more points
1998 Blues (98 pts): 4 Games vs. Los Angeles (78 pts)
2000 Blues (114 pts): 7 Games vs. San Jose (87 pts)
2001 Blues (103 pts): 6 Games vs. San Jose (95 pts)
2002 Blues (98 pts): 5 Games vs. Chicago (96 pts)

Series in which the Blues had fewer points
1996 Blues (80 pts): 6 Games vs. Toronto (80 pts)
1996 Blues (80 pts): 7 Games vs. Detroit (131 pts)
1997 Blues (83 pts): 6 Games vs. Detroit (94 pts)
1998 Blues (98 pts): 6 Games vs. Detroit (103 pts)
1999 Blues (87 pts): 7 Games vs. Phoenix (90 pts)
1999 Blues (87 pts): 6 Games vs. Dallas (114 pts)
2001 Blues (103 pts): 4 Games vs. Dallas (106 pts)
2001 Blues (103 pts): 5 Games vs. Colorado (118 pts)
2002 Blues (98 pts): 5 Games vs. Detroit (116 pts)
2003 Blues (99 pts): 7 Games vs. Vancouver (104 pts)
2004 Blues (91 pts): 5 Games vs. San Jose (104 pts)


Series in which Pronger's team had more points
2007 Ducks (110 pts): 5 Games vs. Minnesota (104 pts)
2007 Ducks (110 pts): 5 Games vs. Vancouver (105 pts)
2007 Ducks (110 pts): 5 Games vs. Ottawa (105 pts)

2008 Ducks (102 pts): 6 Games vs. Dallas (97 pts)
2010 Flyers (88 pts): 5 Games vs. Montreal (88 pts)

Series in which Pronger's team had fewer points
2006 Oilers (95 pts): 6 Games vs. Detroit (124 pts)
2006 Oilers (95 pts): 6 Games vs. San Jose (99 pts)
2006 Oilers (95 pts): 5 Games vs. Anaheim (98 pts)

2006 Oilers (95 pts): 7 Games vs. Carolina (112 pts)
2007 Ducks (110 pts): 6 Games vs. Detroit (113 pts)
2009 Ducks (91 pts): 6 Games vs. San Jose (117 pts)

2009 Ducks (91 pts): 7 Games vs. Detroit (112 pts)
2010 Flyers (88 pts): 5 Games vs. New Jersey (103 pts)
2010 Flyers (88 pts): 7 Games vs. Boston (91 pts)

2010 Flyers (88 pts): 6 Games vs. Chicago (112 pts)



The Blues pretty much lived up to expectations, and Pronger has the warts that tend to accompany a perpetual second-round loser - sometimes deserved but often inflated because a 27-36 minute defenseman on the losing team rarely smells like roses when it's over.

Based on his highest levels of play, he should have been more. Some of it isn't his fault, but a lot of it is. I can't recall having seen a player with his amount of talent put on such a year-to-year roller coaster of highs and lows. But his best years were so infrequent that we can only put so much stock in his career value, which probably sits a little below MacInnis when the potential seemed to be closer to Potvin-level.

But at his best... he showed what a Hart-level defenseman truly was, and we haven't seen that since Bourque.

revolverjgw 07-01-2013 02:04 PM

Injuries were a big factor in his career. He's better than his numbers and honors suggest, so in that sense his career is less than what it could have been. But we saw him at his best quite a lot, can't say he was a disappointment. He delivered.

TheDevilMadeMe 07-01-2013 02:33 PM

He was a disappointment to the extent that he never ended up the next Larry Robinson, which is what he looked like early in his career. Injuries and inconsistency (which was not all due to injuries) really cut him back.

Hobnobs 07-01-2013 02:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MS (Post 68422753)
2 things :

1) keep in mind that Pronger was routinely screwed over in award/All-Star voting because the media didn't like him. In particular the 2006 and 2007 Conn Smythe trophies, but also the 2007 Norris and various All-Star voting.

2) like Denis Potvin, injuries limited the amount of Norris trophies he won as well. He would have won in 2001, but missed 30 games. Likewise in 2007 he missed 16 (but IMO should have won anyway). And of course he lost the entire 2002-03 season through injury.

'07? When he was suspended twice for stupid elbows and his team won anyways?

Metalcommand 07-01-2013 02:48 PM

At his peak and prime Pronger is the best modern defenseman, better than Lidström. No-one i'd rather take as my 1D for a playoff run. Beastly physical, total ******* mean streak, magnificent puck mover, imposing all over the ice. Ruthless winner. No mercy. Mind games.

All hail Pronger! My favourite player all time.

quoipourquoi 07-01-2013 02:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hobnobs (Post 68425675)
'07? When he was suspended twice for stupid elbows and his team won anyways?

You say that as if you've never heard someone advocate for Chris Pronger winning the 2007 Conn Smythe.

Hobnobs 07-01-2013 03:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by quoipourquoi (Post 68426543)
You say that as if you've never heard someone advocate for Chris Pronger winning the 2007 Conn Smythe.

Dont think I ever seen on HoH boards tho, he might have been a smyther up until those events tho.

the edler 07-01-2013 03:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DisgruntledGoat (Post 68419689)
I mean, its kind of ridiculous when you start to break it down: huge, could skate, tremendous hockey IQ, best first pass of his era, 100 mph slapshot, poised with the puck, hits, blocks shots, shuts down top forwards, quarterbacks powerplays, mean as hell, insanely competitive. I don't if you could build a more complete defenseman if you tried.

What does this even mean? Of course he could skate, he was a hockey player. I don't think he was great skater though, if that's what you mean.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Metalcommand (Post 68426405)
At his peak and prime Pronger is the best modern defenseman, better than Lidström. No-one i'd rather take as my 1D for a playoff run. Beastly physical, total ******* mean streak, magnificent puck mover, imposing all over the ice. Ruthless winner. No mercy. Mind games.

Oh yeah, ruthless winner, is that why he lost two thirds of the SCF he was in? And about those mind games, if you mean those silly puck stealing incidents against the Hawks it didn't help his team anywhere, sorry.

quoipourquoi 07-01-2013 03:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the edler (Post 68427897)
Oh yeah, ruthless winner, is that why he lost two thirds of the SCF he was in?

I think his teams lost those because they were 17-point and 24-point underdogs who qualified for the playoffs in Games 81 and 82.

But maybe I'm wrong. :sarcasm:

Metalcommand 07-01-2013 03:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the edler (Post 68427897)
What does this even mean? Of course he could skate, he was a hockey player. I don't think he was great skater though, if that's what you mean.



Oh yeah, ruthless winner, is that why he lost two thirds of the SCF he was in? And about those mind games, if you mean those silly puck stealing incidents against the Hawks it didn't help his team anywhere, sorry.

Haters gonna hate. Pronger is god.

the edler 07-01-2013 03:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Metalcommand (Post 68428597)
Haters gonna hate. Pronger is god.

Pronger is good, yes I know. Actually he reminds me a bit of Moose Johnson, kind of the same playing style, same kind of funny looks.

tarheelhockey 07-01-2013 03:46 PM

I'd say he it was very slightly disappointing -- but then, you have to consider that he was being held up to an extremely high standard. "The next Robinson/Potvin" isn't exactly leaving a young player a lot of margin for error.

If not for some unfortunate, fluke injuries he would have really been a giant of the game. As it is, he was still pretty damn big.

Wrath 07-01-2013 05:57 PM

Disappointing seems like a strong word for someone who has done as much as Pronger (and peaked as high especially).

But no doubt, at the turn of the millennium we all thought that Chris Pronger was gonna be the absolute bees knees. So I do think that a lot of us (at least I personally) look back on his career and think "he could have been even better". I think he could have been a top 10 defenseman all time (if he could keep his prime years with consistency for lidstrom/bourque like longevity, he would be in the discussion for top 5 all time, but with pronger's playstyle, I doubt that would happen), instead he's on the edge of top 20 it seems.

Cloned 07-01-2013 06:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the edler (Post 68427897)
What does this even mean? Of course he could skate, he was a hockey player. I don't think he was great skater though, if that's what you mean.

Most guys who are 6'6 aren't tremendously mobile. Pronger was. It was part of the reason why his gap control was superb. The guy knew how to conserve energy so he wouldn't be skating miles and miles like a Niedermeyer would (not saying Scott didn't know how to conserve energy) but he knew when to accelerate and when to glide.

billybudd 07-01-2013 06:08 PM

I don't know if I'd call Pronger mobile, but he had a lot of ways to work around his average mobility.

I wouldn't call him a disappointment (I mean, the guy won...no earned a hart trophy as a defenseman, which is unheard of). But he could have comfortably been, imo, the best defenseman of his era every year had a few more things gone right for him, instead of "merely" being in the top 3 or 4 mix for a very long time.

Cloned 07-01-2013 06:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by billybudd (Post 68437063)
I don't know if I'd call Pronger mobile, but he had a lot of ways to work around his average mobility.

I wouldn't call him a disappointment (I mean, the guy won...no earned a hart trophy as a defenseman, which is unheard of). But he could have comfortably been, imo, the best defenseman of his era every year had a few more things gone right for him, instead of "merely" being in the top 3 or 4 mix for a very long time.

I dunno, if you want to watch a 6'6 guy with average mobility you could watch Andy Sutton, who wasn't actually slow for his size, just average. Pronger was better. He wasn't as mobile as guys who are considered to be great skaters (Niedermeyer being the contemporary that jumps to mind right away), but he wasn't Andy Sutton either.

Guardian452 07-01-2013 06:27 PM

To call someone who was an elite player for over 10 NHL seasons a disappointment is like calling New York city a small town. Other than Lidstrom & Neidermeyer, can you list another defenseman with better credentials or who was a dominant as Pronger over the past 20 years?

ted1971 07-01-2013 06:50 PM

The Guy is a 1st ballot HOF. How is that a disappointment?

Jtown 07-01-2013 06:51 PM

I think what will really hurt pronger is being in the same era as lidstrom.

I like lidstrom and recognize his incredible ability as a defender, but he was put on a team that suited his skills perfectly. Skilled, mobile, gifted offensive players were in abundance in lidstroms time. IN the wide open west detroit regularly led the league in goals and were always near the top.

This is very similar to paul coffey imo, as great as he was the team he was on and the style they played on magnified his skills tremendously.

Lidstrom was a perfect storm for detroit, and because of his 20 plus years of dominance is unprecedented , no other player in that era compares favorably.

IMO pronger was the finest all around defenseman i've ever seen. He could play any style , and against anyone. He could hang with the selanne's and kariya's. He could also pound the leclair's and Tkachuk's of his era. Lidstrom was much less effective against larger guys.

Fish on The Sand 07-01-2013 07:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hobnobs (Post 68425675)
'07? When he was suspended twice for stupid elbows and his team won anyways?

The guy who won it was invisible for the middle two rounds, so yeah, I'd say he should have.

TheDevilMadeMe 07-01-2013 07:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jtown (Post 68439213)
I think what will really hurt pronger is being in the same era as lidstrom.

I like lidstrom and recognize his incredible ability as a defender, but he was put on a team that suited his skills perfectly. Skilled, mobile, gifted offensive players were in abundance in lidstroms time. IN the wide open west detroit regularly led the league in goals and were always near the top.

This is very similar to paul coffey imo, as great as he was the team he was on and the style they played on magnified his skills tremendously.

Lidstrom was a perfect storm for detroit, and because of his 20 plus years of dominance is unprecedented , no other player in that era compares favorably.

IMO pronger was the finest all around defenseman i've ever seen. He could play any style , and against anyone. He could hang with the selanne's and kariya's. He could also pound the leclair's and Tkachuk's of his era. Lidstrom was much less effective against larger guys.

I think Lidstrom was better against larger guys than Pronger was against smaller faster guys. Pronger really got torn apart by the Blackhawks top line in 2010 after they went all-speed. I also thought Pronger looked out of his element at times in the 2010 Olympics. The only guy i remember consistently giving Lidstrom trouble was Forsberg.

Lidstrom could sometimes be outmuscled in front of the net, but it wasnt often a problem for him

quoipourquoi 07-01-2013 07:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jtown (Post 68439213)
IMO pronger was the finest all around defenseman i've ever seen. He could play any style , and against anyone. He could hang with the selanne's and kariya's. He could also pound the leclair's and Tkachuk's of his era. Lidstrom was much less effective against larger guys.

I agree with a lot of what you said - particularly Pronger on Selanne, which in 2006, looked like some Olympic retribution on Pronger's part when he really abused the guy in the Conference Finals - but I think Lidstrom was just fine against larger players. Once Lidstrom matured a little and stopped trying to force the offense (which was probably just him trying to emulate Coffey), the only player that I can recall ever really having his number was Peter Forsberg. But when your teammates are collecting seven Selkes and a Norris in addition to your own large collection, the system helps cover for any mistakes or weaknesses.

If either of them had an Achilles' heel, it was faster players going wide on Pronger, which really limited him on larger ice surfaces. He was getting a lot of criticism going into the Gold Medal game in 2010 (though he was rather good in that game).


In the era, Niedermayer probably had the best tools. Disappointment may be too strong of a word for him and Pronger, given the amount of team success that followed them, but I can't say that I ever saw that same 2003 playoff Niedermayer before or after that Spring. You know, the quality Niedermayer that people falsely like to project across his entire career.


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