Fresh out of the Obvious Headline Department comes the news that Chris Pronger wants to play hockey this season, and thankfully, Chris Pronger will play hockey this season. It's just a matter of getting healthy, and in a talk with reporters on a conference call on Monday afternoon, Pronger gave an update on his rehab.
This whole time we've been thinking that Pronger's recovering from a bad back, but to the contrary, he said on Monday that it's the rehab from the hand injury that kept him out during the regular season last year that's holding up his return to the ice. That's not to say his back is at 100 percent just yet, but it's the hand that's been keeping him from lifting, and as he said, he hasn't picked up a weight in month. Always encouraging.
Still, Pronger seemed upbeat and confident that he'll be ready for opening night, and he pushed back on any notion that he can't play an 82-game season at this point in his career. Color me pessimistic on that front, but we can always hope.
Oh, and he expects 50 to 60 points out of Jaromir Jagr, so that's awesome. Full transcript after the jump.
Q: How are you feeling and what's going on?
"I'm doing ok. I am starting to feel a little bit better and do a little bit more in the gym. I was cleared to start riding the bike a little bit harder, but have yet to be cleared to start lifting weights though."
Q: What is a daily routine like for you now compared to what it should be like?
"I usually get into the gym and walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes and then I ride the bike for anywhere between 30 to 40 minutes, and have over the last couple weeks slowly started to increase the wattage or tension on the bike, and I am starting to get up there. I get a pretty good sweat now and my heart rate gets up there so I am starting to get fairly close to where I would probably ride at. I have yet to begin doing sprint work or anything like that. From there I go into some core work for probably another 30 minutes, and work on my back and my core and everything I need to do to tighten up to work on my back rehab. And then depending on the day I'll go do legs or I'll do some light shoulder work. "
Q: What concerns you the most right now, where you have to be in terms of training camp?
"Well, that would be strength. I haven't lifted a weight in the last six months, so that would be the answer to your question of what haven't I done, well, obviously lift weights. Strength, for my position and the way I play, is critical. So I've got to gain my strength back before I begin skating."
Q: The team made a lot of moves in the off-season, obviously, and you lost a lot of goals. What is your feeling on the makeover? Do you like the moves that were made?
"I think the biggest thing, [when] you look at offensive production and things of that nature, I think you need to look at projections and where guys are going to take their game with increased ice time, increased power play time, things of that nature.
Obviously, with the addition of [Jaromir] Jagr, you're hopefully going to get 50 or 60 points out of him. [Claude Giroux], who knows where he takes his game to. [James van Riemsdyk] scratched the surface last year in the playoffs and hopefully he comes back and is able to take his game to the next level. Wayne Simmonds can come in and provide 15 or 20 goals on the wing. [Jakub] Voracek coming in, he should be able to supply some offense.
We lose a lot in [Mike Richards] and [Jeff Carter] and [Ville Leino] but I think you gain some of that back through the improved play and increased ice time, power play and what not for those other guys I mentioned. And then really the style of play. We don't want to be in shootouts. We don't want to play in games that are 8-7. We want to be able to rely on our goaltender and our defense, which is where we're built, and our youth up front, get skating, get physical, get in on the play and create turnovers and things of that nature."
Q: Getting back to your back, where are you now compared to where you usually are this time of year? Do you see yourself trying to speed up the process or are you going to take it slower and whenever you get on the ice, you get on the ice?
"I'm not going to speed up the process one bit. It's going to go how it goes. Normally at this time of year I would have already had 2 months of strength training. I usually start kind of curtailing that a little bit and do more cardio. Now I have been doing all cardio and no lifting, so it's kind of a little bit backwards. I need to obviously do a lot of lifting to get my body back to where it needs to be and the shape it needs to be to be able to play an 82 game schedule, and 25-30 minutes a game, the way I play."
Q: Realistically when do you think you will be able to be on the ice?
"Well I could use the same line I have used a couple times but I won't. I don't know. I haven't started lifting weights yet so I don't know how my body is going to respond and what kind of strength I am going to have and all the rest of that. Until I get to the gym and start lifting weights I really couldn't tell you."
Q: Have you been told when you can start lifting weights?
"I was told by the hand doctor I could lift in another week, possibly."
Q: Is the lifting weight problem the hand or the back or a combination of both?
"No, it would be the hand."
Q: You did say 82 games. Is that a possibility, or a remote possibility, you could be ready on opening day?
"Again, I don't know. The goal is to be ready for Game 1 of the regular season. I am starting to progress. I think Homer [Paul Holmgren] talked maybe last week about I was in seeing the doctor about a week and a half ago and I was kind of cleared then to progress my cardio and things like that, and grab light weights and do some shoulder work and stuff like that. Once I get cleared, I can start getting into a full lifting program and all the rest of that. Again, it's how my body reacts and how I feel that dictates when I start to skate and where we go from there."
Q: Do you have pain now?
"Just sitting here talking to you guys, I have no pain. Other than my brain."
Q: Are you confident the problem has been fixed?
"I am. I am, yeah. I hope so. That is the idea when you have these surgeries, that it'll be fixed for good. But we do play a physical game and you know, we'll see, but as I've said I am starting to feel a little bit better. You start rounding the corner, you're able to ride the bike a little bit harder, you start to feel a little bit better about yourself, and you start get your energy level back and those sorts of things.
You start to really kind of push yourself in the gym a little bit more, and as I said, once I start lifting weights I'll be able to push myself even harder and see how I react and feel"
Q: Could you talk about [Ilya] Bryzgalov a little bit and what he does with the defense especially. Are you excited to play in front of him?
"Yeah, I am. I've seen him kind of mature over the last five or six years since I was with him in Anaheim, and you know he's kind of taken his game to the next level, and how he's played in Phoenix and kind of carried their team to the playoffs. I think we play a very similar defensive style as they did there, very tight defensively, and I'd like to think we play pretty sound defensively as well. I don't think he's going to be getting 35-40 shots a night, but you know, 20-25 shots a night. He is just going to have to stay sharp and stay focused. If he plays the way he did in Phoenix we'lll certainly be pleased."
Q: How healed up is your hand?
"My hand I guess would be about 80% healed, maybe 85% healed. I had the plate removed, so I'm just waiting for the screw holes to fill in."
Q: You seem to be the main recruiter. What do you tell the guys coming on to a new team with so much turnover?
"Well, I only talked to one guy. I talked to guys after the trade, so I wouldn't say I recruited them. But I speak about the ownership and the management and the coaching staff and about the players that are with the team, and talk about what the coach has been selling, what he's preaching. You know, obviously Mr. Snider, what he has done for this team speaks for itself and the moves that Homer's made, and Lavi's coaching.
You just talk about the personnel. [Jaromir] Jagr was over in Europe for the past three years so he hasn't seen [James] van Riemsdyk or [Claude] Giroux, he hasn't seen some of these guys. So you just talk about what type of players they are and about the defense we have and how we play. He obviously knows Bryz. Really I was just answering his questions. He was just trying to make up his mind and he had a decision to make and he had a lot of questions to be answered, and I just answered them for him."
Q: Physically how do you feel and how much do you have left in the tank?
"Again, I don't really know that you could say I was breaking down, with broken bones and being hit by pucks and all the rest of that. Those are all the things that can sometimes be avoided. Perhaps now I may not block as many shots. I may just get out of the way and let our million dollar goaltender stop those things."
Q: I guess I am just asking what your durability is?
"Well, if I'm going off of last year I guess I would call myself a band aid. But I've got many other years where you could say I wasn't a band aid. Sometimes you just have years where things don't go your way. It was a quick turnaround last year... I played hurt in the playoffs, and had surgery, and was kind of set back in my training, and for whatever reason I had a couple bad breaks along the way and then the back came in.
I don't really know what happened with my back, if it was just a ticking time bomb or what. I don't think anyone really knows how they hurt their back. I would like to think I'm past all of this, but again, we'll see how I react once I start lifting weights and pushing myself a little bit harder."
Q: Did that make it even more important to take your time with this? I am sure you talked to other players who have gone through some things like this and the remedy is to take your time.
"Yeah, I think all along I have told Homer, I told Lavi, I told you guys and anyone that's asked that I'm gonna take my time and make sure I was doing everything that was necessary rehab-wise and what, not whether it be rest or recuperation or whatever it is, to make sure whatever injuries I did have last year were going to be healed up and fully healed and allow me to be healthy whenever it was that I started skating and began playing again, that I was going to be able to go 100% and not look back."
Q: Do you think as much time as you missed last year might have re-energized you?
"Sometimes it can. You have to use the time wisely. For the first little while I couldn't do anything because of my back, for the first 6 weeks anyway. ... everything else to recover as well - where you're not running the bike, lifting weights, and doing all the rest of the stuff that normally you're already back doing. You're able to allow your body to hopefully fully recover. I like to think that taking that much time off will allow me to fully heal up and recover and be able to play another 82 game season.
Thanks as always to Flyers PR for the transcript.