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article imageOp-Ed: Has Chris Pronger concussion made him regret his vicious hits?

By Marcus Hondro     Oct 1, 2013 in Sports
Some quotes came out of Philadelphia today from Chris Pronger. The giant defenceman is still suffering from severe post-concussion syndrome and it appears unlikely the 38-year-old will ever play again.
Of those quotes one was particularly telling, and sad. Pronger, who hasn't played since Nov. 19, 2011, after suffering his third concussion, was talking about family time. It is forever hoped that a player's time with his family isn't going to be affected by an injury but in Pronger's case, despite nearly two years having passed, his injury continues to have a negative impact not just on his hockey life, but on his life, period.
"I went on the ice a couple weeks ago with my kids," Pronger told reporters at the Flyers camp Monday. "Moving in a straight line slowly was OK, but you start turning and spinning, things like that, you get lightheaded and dizzy.
"And you start having symptoms, and you get brought back down to the real world real quick and you realize there's still a lot of work to be done."
Pronger: Elbow to McAmmond's head
Sucks, right? It does but it also begs the following question: now that Chris Pronger, known for throwing dirty hits that caused other players injuries, including hits to the head causing concussions, knows just how devastating those concussions can be, if he were able to play NHL hockey again would he change his ways?
And does he now have regrets, for example, over his terrible elbow to the head of Dean McAmmond in the 2007 playoffs? An elbow that knocked McAmmond out and knocked him out of the postseason. McAmmond had thrown the puck by Pronger and, unable to stop him any other way, Pronger gave the Ottawa Senator an elbow to the head as he skated by him. The result didn't make for good TV.
When it happened, Colin Campbell showed why he became known for being so inept as the NHLs disciplinarian, and why dirty play continued during his reign, by suspending Pronger but one game. McAmmond was given another concussion the following preseason, courtesy Steve Downie (not so important as Pronger, Downie got 20 games) but came back from that one, too. Retired in 2010, he's helping run the minor hockey program in Vernon, B.C. and is fortunate to have his health.
Pronger has history of head shots
Pronger was the architect of many other dirty hits, including one to Tomas Holmstrom of the Detroit Red Wings, also in the same 2007 playoffs, a high hit from behind with his elbows that knocked Holmstrom's helmet off and left him bleeding from his head; it, too, drew but a one-game suspension. Crazy that he twice illegally hit a player's head in the same playoffs and yet each time got only one game.
He hit Pat Peake in the throat in 1995 and got four games, his first suspension. Two years later he swung his stick at Jeremy Roenick's head. Despite ruling Pronger had swung his stick in an "extremely reckless and dangerous manner" Campbell again gave Pronger just four games. In 2002 he cross-checked Brendan Morrow in the head so hard that Morrow began bleeding from his eyes. Two games.
There are other suspensions but none of the players have fared as badly as he himself has with his concussion. I won't say it's poetic justice, or any kind of justice. It's lousy he's going through this and lousy that, like Marc Savard (viciously hit by Matt Cooke, who Campbell gave no suspension), Pronger has to endure it affecting his life with his children.
I will say this though: a Chris Pronger who now understands the insanity of his play, play that was not part of winning, and who regrets his violent, non-hockey acts that injured others needlessly, is a better man than a Chris Pronger who still doesn't get it.
Given what he's going through, if he doesn't get it now he never will.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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