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Blackhawks, Ducks react to Pronger's absence

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO – If anybody can relate to the plight of Philadelphia Flyers captain Chris Pronger, it is Chicago Blackhawks center Dave Bolland.

Bolland missed about a month at the end of last season with the aftereffects of a severe concussion and wasn’t able to return until the fourth game of a first-round playoff series against the rival Vancouver Canucks.

Pronger harassed the Hawks relentlessly in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final that Chicago won in six games, but the news that he would miss the rest of the season and possibly have his career jeopardized was disappointing for Bolland to hear.

“He’s a great player and a great defenseman,” Bolland said after the Hawks’ Friday morning skate. “He’s one of those faces of the NHL and to see him go down with a concussion is bad to see. He’s one of those guys around the League that guys look up to and he’s been around this League for a while now, so seeing that happen isn’t great.”

He felt likewise about the spate of concussion news that has dominated headlines recently and knocked several of the game’s top stars out for lengthy periods – including Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, Philadelphia Flyers star Claude Giroux and Carolina Hurricanes second-year star Jeff Skinner.

“It’s tough to see that,” Bolland said. “You never want to see that around the League, so many guys out. That’s something the NHL and the NHLPA may have to look at … into some of these situations.”

Some of the situations, however, have come as a result of friendly-fire type of incidents – such as Giroux’s when teammate Wayne Simmonds accidentally kneed him in the back of the head while trying to avoid him on the ice.

“The pace of the game is quick, the size of the guys, pucks, bodies, intensity, collisions with your own team are sometimes worse than any type of collisions,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Lots of variables lead into it, but the League is doing what they have to do and they intensified player safety this year. It’s a tough stretch right now for the League and certain teams with the diagnosis. The uncertainty of it all is the tough part. At the end of the day, you hope their quality of life gets back in order quickly and then you make some other decisions.”

Down the hall at United Center, Teemu Selanne also expressed his concern for Pronger – whom played with in Anaheim and won the Stanley Cup in 2007.

“It’s always bad news,” Selanne said. “We’re all so concerned about those concussions, because you never know. Those are really scary. This League needs a guy like Chris Pronger and as a friend, it’s always tough news. There’s too many concussions right now and that’s in the whole League. Every player should be worried about it.”
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