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Hockey Hall of Fame: Could Chris Pronger be inducted in 2015?

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Chris Pronger could enter the Hockey Hall of Fame earlier than anybody anticipated.

Bruce Bennett

Chris Pronger isn't technically retired from the NHL. Paul Holmgren is on record saying that the Flyers defenseman will never play again, and Pronger himself has basically said the same thing in fewer words.

But he's not technically retired, and he can't retire because it would kill the Flyers against the salary cap, so it's a weird sort of limbo for him until his contract expires in 2017.

One would assume, then, since he's still technically an active player in the NHL, that he'll have to wait until 2020 to be eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Players are typically eligible three years after retiring from the game. But his status as retired or not might not matter after all. It might only matter when he played his last game, which was ... three years ago.

Via ESPN's Pierre LeBrun:

"He would be eligible in 2015 as far as the way the bylaw reads and as long, obviously, as he doesn't play again prior to his election," Jeff Denomme, president and CEO of the Hockey Hall of Fame, told ESPN.com Monday. "If there was any question on matters pertaining to any particular candidate's eligibility, I suspect that's something the board would raise at some point though."

Here's the bylaw, for reference:

Except as provided in paragraph 20, a candidate for election in the player category must have concluded his or her career as an active player for a minimum of three playing seasons before his or her election.

Pronger's last game was in Winnipeg on November 11, 2011. He'd be three seasons out from his injury when the selection committee convenes in the summer of 2015 to select that year's Hall of Fame class.

Pronger is a first-ballot Hall of Famer for sure, and if the committee determines he's concluded his career -- which he certainly has -- by the summer of 2015, I'd be shocked if he didn't go into the Hall that year.