(Voorhees, NJ) – At 35 years of age Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger
showed no signs of slowing down last season, his first as a Flyer, during the club’s exhilarating run to Stanley Cup Final. That being said, he wouldn’t mind lessening his workload a bit.
|Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger answers a question during a news conference at the NHL Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday, June 8, 2010, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) |
“You need to have that depth so that you aren’t skipping a beat and you’re not playing 30 minutes a night on defense. You are playing 22-25 minutes a night,” said Pronger from the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone
on Monday morning. “It allows you to try and stay a little fresher.”
Last year, Pronger saw his ice time climb from 25:55 in the regular season (fifth in the league) to 29:03 in the playoffs (most in the league). Although he takes great care of himself off of the ice and manages his energy well on the ice, he likes the additions the team has made on the back end. Andrej Mezsaros and Sean O’Donnell will join the team and instantly add more depth and skill to the Top 6, giving Philadelphia what some have argued as the best defense corps in the league along with Kimmo Timonen
, Braydon Coburn
, Matt Carle
and Oskars Bartulis. Matt Walker, acquired via trade with Tampa Bay on Monday, also adds some more size, toughness and depth.
The should allow the Flyers to roll three pairs with more frequency, giving players like Pronger more time to recharge their batteries between shifts. It’s a welcome development.
“You relish the minutes and you relish the opportunity to play at the competitive level that you are playing, but at the same time, you have to look at the big picture,” he said. “Obviously, [Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren] did that by addressing this and acquiring guys at positions that we needed.
“I think with Meszaros and O’Donnell, we are obviously trying to shore up our defense pairings and give us a little more depth back there. This will probably take some minutes off Kimmo and I, and Coby and Matty. So, we will be able to hopefully roll three sets a little more frequently and keep us all a little more sharp and fresh.”
Pronger, who is back the area to train for a few weeks, also isn’t surprised that the roster had to undergo some transition even after the (mostly) successful playoff run.
“Whenever you go to the Final and you have success like this, you have to make some tough decisions. There are always guys that will have to come off your team and there are always holes to fill. This year is no different.
“For the most part, if you look at our team from last year to this upcoming season, the nucleus is still there. We have a great core of players and I think we will be that much more ready to take that next step with the run that we made in the playoffs and the experience that we gained. We saw what it is going to take for us to be successful and win a Stanley Cup. We were close, but not close enough. That is something that we can build on next season, and in the future.”