Chris Pronger has not played in nearly two years because of concussion and eye injuries, and his ability to return to the Philadelphia Flyers long has been considered a slim chance at best.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren offered the first definitive comments on Pronger's status to Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, in an article published on the magazine's website Monday.
"I'll say it, Chris is never going to play again," Holmgren said. "I have no problems saying it."
Pronger has not played since Nov. 19, 2011 and his only time on the ice has been "pushing pucks around' at his sons' youth practices, according to Campbell's article. The symptoms he had after his last concussion have subsided, but problems from an eye injury after being hit by a stick remain nearly two years later.
While waiting to see if those symptoms will recede, Pronger has been doing some scouting for the Flyers.
"Chris is one of the smartest guys in hockey I know," Holmgren told Campbell. "He has a real grasp of the game and a real understanding of his position and everybody else's position on the ice. He's like Tom Brady as a player. He just knows that much about what's going on."
Pronger's contract runs through the 2006-17 season. He was 35 years old before the contract began, so the Flyers are on the hook for the $4.9 million cost against the salary cap each season, though they have been able to receive relief by placing Pronger on long-term injured reserve at the start of each season.
Were Pronger to retire officially, the Flyers would lose that ability and his contract would count fully against the cap. Pronger also would not receive the rest of the salary owed to him from the contract, which was $12.15 million at the start of the 2013-14 season, according to Capgeek.com.