It's been seven months, but somehow, Chris Pronger's puck-stealing antics are still a story. Maybe it's because the Flyers played the Blackhawks last week and it's all been refreshed in our memories, but really, the idea that Pronger picking up a puck after Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final still being a storyline is pretty silly.
Pronger was asked about it yesterday after the game in Chicago.
"I have it," Pronger said (about the puck from Game 2). "It's tucked away somewhere. It'll wind up on eBay at some point. All proceeds will go to the person that buys its charity."
Pronger made headlines as the puck thief, so much so that a Chicago establishment - Harry Caray's, a restaurant named after the late Cubs broadcaster - publicly offered $50,000 for the puck Pronger swiped (after Game 6).
"If they want to give me 50-grand, I'll donate it to charity," Pronger said. "You get me their name and number and I'll do it."
Seven months later, two things are still true. While people in Chicago and around the league paint No. 20 as A) an evil villain and B) a petty thief, the truth is that neither are really all that true.
There was nothing petty about Pronger's puck stealing in the Final, evidenced by the fact that we're talking about it in January. We've said this a thousand times, but Pronger's antics after Game 2 served as a necessary distraction the Flyers needed after losing the first two games of the series.
While Pronger was being asked questions about it for the two games throughout games, the rest of the team was able to go about their business without non-stop questions about why they were in an 0-2 hole. Chris Pronger is one of the most calculated individuals in the NHL. Everything he does is for a reason, and nothing he does is without reason. This was no exception.
(For the record, Pronger says he didn't touch the puck after Game 6. He was on the bench anyway, and he says he was a little too disappointed to think about grabbing it.)
Also, as evidenced by the charity aspect of this whole thing, Pronger really isn't the villain that people paint him as. He loves the persona and he understands his role as the NHL's Public Enemy No. 1, and as a Flyer, he's really able to relish in that spotlight.
But when the cameras are off, Pronger's genuinely a very nice guy. He plays around with kids in the locker room, he signs autographs at will and he'll always remember your name. The man isn't a villain, but he sure does love playing one on TV.