Pronger to leave Edmonton
It may have started as a rumour — or something even less than that — but two days later, is appears all but done. Chris Pronger is almost certainly going to leave the Edmonton Oilers.
The reasons — or reason — have also come out, with Pronger having requested a trade earlier in the season due to his wife's desire to leave northern Alberta.
You really have to wonder about the behind-the-scenes issues here, and just how miserable Lauren Pronger must have been living in Edmonton the past nine months. A St. Louis girl from a wealthy background (her father founded a successful investment banking firm), Pronger's wife was decidedly not used to the oft-transient lifestyle of modern professional athletes, given that he was able to play nine full seasons for her hometown Blues.
I will say one thing that I haven't read anywhere else, and that's this: It shows class that Pronger didn't request an immediate trade when his family situation dictated such. Instead, he followed through on his committment for at least one full season, not upsetting the team's balance during the year. At least this way, given his phenomenal play during the postseason, his value is sky-high and Oilers GM Kevin Lowe has time to make a deal.
If you have to move a player like Pronger, those are the ideal circumstances.
Still, I'm not sure any professional athlete has had as much of an impact on a city in only one year as Pronger did in Edmonton this season. He was one of the top five defencemen during the regular season (a Norris Trophy candidate), and one of the best players in the playoffs (a Conn Smythe favourite). Pronger's willingness to come to Edmonton also brought a new hope to small-town Canadian hockey fans who had long grown used to being spurned by the game's biggest stars.
If the Oilers stumble and fall next season, a heckuva lot of embittered fans will blame the girl from Missouri.