Matt Carle said it has been more than a month since he saw old defensive partner Chris Pronger.
“Probably since the team’s Christmas party,” Carle guessed. “It’s been a while.”
Pronger, 36, is still out for the season with concussion-like symptoms, but he unexpectedly showed up at the Flyers’ practice facility in Voorhees, N.J., on Wednesday before practice to catch up with his teammates.
Pronger has not played a game since Nov. 19 in Winnipeg. He has publicly discussed his trying situation. And even his own teammates haven’t much communicated with him.
Pronger spent 90 minutes at the team’s facility on Wednesday.
“He wanted to know how we were doing,” Carle said. “He asked how I was playing with ‘Bizz’ [Marc-Andre Bourdon] and about our defensive rotations.
“He was more concerned with us than himself, it seemed like. So it was good to see him today. His spirits are up, it seems, so you just try to get better every day.”
The Flyers have not named a replacement for Pronger’s captaincy. Coach Peter Laviolette hinted that there was no reason for the Flyers to do so.
“We do feel like we have good leadership in the room,” Laviolette said. “I don’t feel like that’s been an issue for us.”
Laviolette added that the friendship part of being teammates is often lost in the equation. In a way, Pronger’s visit could have been therapeutic for him.
“I think it’s always good to see someone when they’ve been out due to injury,” Laviolette said. “You’re talking about friends and teammates that he’s coming in to see. I think that’s a positive.”
Laviolette and Carle both said Pronger didn’t look visibly different than the last time they saw him. On Dec. 15, he was declared out for the balance of the regular season and playoffs - a mandate that doesn’t seem like it will change.
Still, Carle said everyone in the Flyers’ locker room could sympathize with what Pronger has been experiencing over the past 3 months. Pronger told Carle he took a vacation during the All-Star break, which may have enabled him to charge his batteries enough to string together a few “good days” in a row.
“I’m sure you kind of get antsy,” Carle said. “I think that’s kind of what he’s going through. He’s home every day and he doesn’t have a whole lot going on. Hopefully [visiting us] helps him out.”
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