Chris Pronger (Getty Images)
The hulking defenseman has gone to the final with three very different teams from three very different markets. And winning or losing has nothing to do with geography in his mind.
Chris Pronger is no stranger to success and no stranger to the spotlight. The future first-ballot Hall of Famer was one of the most intimidating forces in hockey in this generation and though his career is effectively over due to a concussion, he's still on top of the game.
Pronger won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007 but also went to the final with Edmonton and Philadelphia. With the Montreal Canadiens the only guaranteed Canadian team heading to the playoffs right now, the issue of why teams from north of the border haven't won the Cup since 1993 has come up again. Is it because of the pressure on players up here to win?
"I don’t think so," Pronger said. "There’s pressure on the Flyers, there’s pressure on Boston, on New York…it just may not be to the level it is in Canada, where for a lot of those cities, it’s unimaginable they’re not going to win this year.”
Pronger, who was in Toronto as part of Gatorade's High Performance Hockey Summit, believes the NHL is just cyclical; Calgary and Edmonton for example, are rebuilding, but each made it to the final in the past decade. Vancouver is on the way down after making the final in 2010-11.
"It’s skill, it's luck, it’s having everything come together at the right time," he said. "In Edmonton, it all came together at the right time. We got great goaltending, we played as a team, played good defensively and we worked well for one another. In Anaheim we had a gifted team that just wanted to win. We had that mindset all year. We played physical, we had a big team and we punished teams. In Philly, there was a lot of turmoil. It was a stressful year, but you know what? The good things in life are hard and if you’re able to get through the adversity you face, you’re only going to be better and we were a much better team because of that stuff. We got into the playoffs and we worked. We had a lot of talent and character. It didn’t work out, but we were right there.”