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Pronger back on the ice, return remains in question

by John Manasso /
ATLANTA -- Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger skated in his gear and worked out on the ice with his teammates Friday for the first time since breaking his right foot Dec. 15.

With the Flyers losing in Boston 7-5 on Thursday and flying here after the game, Pronger, 36, who had surgery on the foot Dec. 17, practiced with only three other teammates -- Oskars Bartulis, Daniel Carcillo and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky -- for almost an hour as part of a morning skate with assistant coaches Jeff Reese and Joe Mullen before Philadelphia's game Friday with the Thrashers. Pronger mostly did light passing and skating drills. Asked how it felt, Pronger said, "Not bad."

"It was fun to get out there and do some drills and finally get my feet underneath me," said Pronger, who has 4 goals, 11 assists and a plus-6 rating in 31 games.

Pronger said there was no timetable for him to return to contact drills or to return to playing.

"No," he said. "It's all kind of just as we go."

Speaking before Pronger took the ice, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said the workout was a good sign.

"Well, the fact that he's been skating now for three or four days is a good sign for us," Holmgren said. "I'm not sure what the timetable is for his return, but the fact that he's out on the ice is a good sign."

Even though the workout was limited, Pronger saw it as a positive.

"Any time you're out there with other guys, it helps. Sometimes it might actually help more. You're not in a full practice. You're going more often and getting into the drill more. And not much is expected because there is only three of you out there," he said.

Pronger needs to clear two hurdles before he returns to playing. First is convincing doctors that he's not at risk of re-breaking the bone, and then regaining his game shape.

"You can do all you want on the bike and work out and all the rest of that, but there's nothing like just skating," he said. "There's gym shape and then there's hockey shape and you have to get on the ice and get into drills and all that different skating drills and what-not to get that part of it back."

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