Chris Pronger was one of the most dominant (and feared) defencemen in the National Hockey League.
Born in Dryden, Ontario on October 10, 1974, Pronger was inclined to play hockey on a scholarship in the U.S., but changed his mind and joined the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League. In his second season with the Petes, Chris was honoured by being selected to the league's First All-Star Team, was awarded the Max Kaminsky Trophy as the OHL's premiere defenceman, was also named the Canadian Hockey League's Best Defenceman and had the best plus/minus of any junior player in Canada. At the NHL Draft in June 1993, Chris Pronger was the second overall selection, chosen by the Hartford Whalers. He made his debut that fall and earned a spot on the 1993-94 NHL All-Rookie Team. After two seasons in Connecticut, Pronger was dealt to the St. Louis Blues for Brendan Shanahan.
Under St. Louis coach/general manager Mike Keenan, Pronger flourished, and in 1997-98, his third season with the Blues, he was named captain and earned a spot on the NHL's Second All-Star Team. He was also the recipient of the NHL Plus/Minus Award. Chris had a career season in 1999-2000, collecting 62 points and also had a +52 plus/minus rating. He was named to the First All-Star Team, was awarded the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league's top defenceman and won the coveted Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player.
Injuries reduced Pronger to 51 games in 2000-01, and yet, he recorded 47 points. Injuries plagued him again in 2002-03, reducing his season to just five games, but he rebounded in 2003-04 and was again named to the Second All-Star Team.
After nine seasons in St. Louis, Chris was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in 2005. He would lead the Oilers to the Stanley Cup Final the following spring, and in the first game, became the first player in history to score on a penalty shot in a Stanley Cup Final contest. Although the Oilers lost to the Carolina Hurricanes, Pronger led his team with 21 points (5 goals and 16 assists) in 24 games, as well as a team-leading plus/minus of +10.
After a single season with the Oilers, Pronger was traded to the Anaheim Ducks, with whom he would return to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007. This time however the result would be much different, as Anaheim claimed the Stanley Cup title. To top off an extraordinary season, Pronger was selected to the Second All-Star Team.
Prior to the 2007-08 season, Pronger was named captain of the Ducks, replacing Scott Niedermayer, who had decided at that time that he was not going to play. Although Niedermayer returned to the lineup late in the season, Pronger remained captain until the start of next season when Niedermayer was renamed captain. Pronger retained a role as alternate captain.
In June 2009, Pronger was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. Pronger and the Flyers would reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, but were beaten by the Chicago Blackhawks. That summer, Chris underwent knee surgery, and combined with other injuries, had his season reduced to 50 games. By the start of the 2011-12 season, Pronger was given the captaincy of the Flyers, but in mid-December, playing just his 13th game, he was forced to end his season after suffering post-concussion syndrome and problems in his right eye after being struck by a stick earlier that season. The challenges did not subside, and Pronger would not return to the ice.
He concluded his NHL career with 157 goals and 541 assists for 698 points, as well as 1,590 penalty minutes in 1,167 regular season games, and also had 26 goals, 95 assists and 121 points in 173 playoff contests.
During his brilliant career, Chris also played internationally for Canada, winning Olympic gold medals with Team Canada in 2002 and 2010. Having also been part of Canada's World Championship in 1997, Chris Pronger is a member of the exclusive Triple Gold Club with a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal and a World Championship.
The towering three-time NHL captain established himself as a fearless leader, and one of the finest defencemen in hockey history.