UPDATE: Even after Chris Pronger was shuttled back-and-forth to Pittsburgh yesterday to visit with renowned concussion experts at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Flyers needed more time to discuss their gameplan for their future Hall of Fame defenseman.
Last night, the Flyers decided to keep their cards close to the vest.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren released a statement that the team will “have an update on Chris Pronger [Thursday] once we have spoken to the doctors.”
MONTRÉAL -- It is a safe bet that Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren will be glued to his Blackberry today.
That’s because the Flyers - and Holmgren - are anxiously awaiting news from the Steel City, where captain Chris Pronger is scheduled to meet with renowned concussion experts Drs. Mickey Collins and Joe Maroon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Pronger is out indefinitely with post-concussion symptoms. Pronger, 37, has not played since Nov. 19. He said previously that his headaches have been vicious and accompanied by nausea and general fatigue.
The general consensus surrounding Pronger’s uncertain medical status usually comes back to the high-stick that he took to the eye on Oct. 24 against Toronto.
I’m not so sure that high-stick is the direct cause - but it may certainly be linked.
On Oct. 24, Pronger temporarily lost vision in his right eye and was immediately put on medication to help relieve the pressure build-up behind his eye. Pronger missed the next 6 games before returning to the lineup on Nov. 9. Clearly, with the eye connected so closely to the brain, any vision problems and general head trauma can cause concussions.
If I know anything about Pronger, it’s that he is more in-tune to his body than almost any other professional athlete I have covered. That makes it unlikely that Pronger would have returned to the lineup with any lingering headaches or nausea on Nov. 9. He would have had no reason to rush back into the lineup unnecessarily.
Pronger played 5 games - on Nov. 9, Nov. 13, Nov. 14, Nov. 17 and Nov. 19 - before missing time with what the Flyers originally called a virus.
Holmgren told the Daily News on Tuesday that Pronger initially reported not feeling himself on Nov. 18 but believed the pain was related to the eye. With nothing serious believed to be the case, he played the next day in Winnipeg. It was after the Winnipeg game that his condition worsened.
What changed between Nov. 17 and Nov. 18?
I believe it was Canadian station TSN who first glanced at the game tape for any unusual plays, but I went back and perused through the Nov. 17 win over Phoenix in full on Tuesday through the magic of NHL Game Center Live. That’s where I believe Pronger may have sustained more head trauma.
With 2:09 remaining in the third period, Pronger was crunched on the boards in his own end by the Coyotes’ Martin Hanzal. It was a routine, clean hit. But it may have a lasting impact on the Flyers’ season.
Pronger was hit from the side, but went into the glass face first. He bounced off the glass and immediately fell to his knees and was slow to get up again. Pronger eventually re-joined the play, made a pass, and exited the ice.
Why is that significant? For one, Pronger is not Scott Hartnell. He does not fall down often; he is usually well-balanced on his skates. Plus, that hit was the first - and one of only 2 - Pronger had taken in his 5 games after the high-stick.
Holmgren said on Tuesday that Pronger did not report a specific hit that could have been the culprit. And this is not to say that Pronger’s current injury is as a direct result of the Hanzal hit. At this point, it doesn’t much matter when or where Pronger was hurt again - the result is the same.
It’s just to suggest that for a player skating with a relatively fresh head injury, it might not take the biggest hit in the world to wreak havoc. Sometimes, the second hit is the one that does the most damage.
The Flyers are set for a 12 noon practice at the Bell Centre here in Montreal. We'll have more on that and Pronger's latest news later today.
CONCUSSION CRASH COURSE: As we noted in today’s paper, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said on Tuesday that Claude Giroux’s concussion symptoms and whiplash effect are not at all connected to the minor car accident he was in on Saturday before the game.
Giroux's roommate on the road, Matt Carle, was on an ESPN.com podcast with John Buccigross on Monday and mentioned the accident.
"He just got in his first car wreck the other day," Carle told Buccigross. "He was driving from the rink to pre-game meal and rear-ended some lady. That has nothing to do with what's going on with his injury right now, I can tell you that for sure. But it's a dealer-owned car, a Chevy Camaro, so I'm not sure how that's going to work out. The front-end is all banged up. So, for right now, he doesn't have a car."
MORE VS. LESS: On Tuesday, Paul Holmgren pointed out that the NHL released statistics recently that say the number of concussions are down this season compared to last. Sounds hard to believe when you consider the amount of stars currently suffering from them. Courtesy of the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle: Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Chris Pronger, Mike Richards, Kris Letang, Jeff Skinner, and Marc Stall, just to name a few.
If that wasn't enough, the NHL's leading goal-scorer, Ottawa's Milan Michalek, was officially diagnosed with one on Wednesday.
WERTH IT? Former Phillie Jayson Werth took in Tuesday night’s Flyers win over the Capitals at the Verizon Center in Washington. According to CrossingBroad.com, Werth said he was remaining “neutral” as a fan, though he did cheer for the Capitals’ lone goal in the third period.
WORST GAME EVER? Philly native Mike Sielski, of the Wall Street Journal, took a look at the Flyers’ stand-still game in Tampa Bay on Nov. 9. It’s being dubbed the “worst hockey game ever played.” What do you think?
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers