Columbus was one of seven stops Sean Pronger made in the NHL during his career. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
Welcome back hockey fans! For those of you who are first time readers, please read my last entry or this blog will make zero sense.
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I think we left off last time with some plumbing issues in the “Ol' farm house” in Tennessee. Let’s join the train wreck back in December.
I'm laying in my bed with the heater cranked reading the Wall Street Journal (or was it an Archie comic) and I gaze out the door to see, in the darkness of our living room, the Christmas tree we had just decorated. The way the lights shimmer off the silver, red, and blue Bud Light cans that cover it. Magnificent!
As I'm staring at our tree with a stupid smirk on my face, the phone rings. It’s my agent (in order to protect his identity we will call him Jerry). I'm sure he's calling to collect his three percent of $500. Nope. Jerry informs me there is an NHL team that wants to sign me when the lockout ends.
As I pull myself off the floor I say to him, "Sorry, I thought you said an NHL team." He says, "yeah." "Which team?" I ask. "I can't tell you until after the lockout is over,” Jerry says. “Oh, OK, I get it. You want to mess with me. Alright, I can take it. WHICH #$%ING TEAM IS IT?" I asked him. "Honestly, I can't tell you. It’s in your best interest if you don't know. But know this, when the lockout ends you'll be signing your first NHL contract." said Jerry.
Any guesses what my next question was? Considering I had no heat or indoor plumbing in my luxurious farmhouse in Deliverance, Tennessee, I think it went a little something like this, and very calmly I might add. "WHEN IS THE LOCKOUT GOING TO BE OVER!” "Sean, I don't know," finished Jerry.
Thanks, Jerry. Thanks for nothing.
So I guess that puts me right back in Tennessee with no cable, no heat, but finally some indoor plumbing. I know just who to call; parents? No. Girlfriend? No.
"Hey, Chris, how's it going? What have you been up to? How's the weather in Hartford? Blah blah blah. WHEN ARE YOU GUYS GOING TO TAKE THE DEAL SO I CAN GET THE $%&! OUT OF HERE?"
I think now is a good time to pause and recap what has happened over the past couple of months:
• Released by the Vancouver Canucks
• Head faked by the Detroit Red Wings
• NHL Lockout
• Ate a nice "thanks for coming" burger from the Las Vegas Thunder
• Almost moved to England
• Settled in a State-of-the-Art Farmhouse in Tennessee
• Was informed I'd be released from prison, but they couldn’t find the paperwork
Have I mentioned it’s only December?
Alright, I know what you're thinking. Poor baby, you want some cheese with that box of wine? Whatever, now back to our regularly scheduled program.
After I guilted my 20-year-old brother into taking on the players’ union on my behalf, I called my parents and the future Mrs. Journeyman to give them the update. Obviously they were thrilled. They all did time at "The Farmhouse," so they were somewhat relieved to hear there may be some light at the end of this tunnel. Although, looking back, I should have known it was a train.
So here's the situation: I'm playing for the Knoxville Cherokees and playing pretty well I might add. I have been chosen to play in the All-Star Game, which is good. I've been told I will sign with an NHL team if or when the lockout ends, which is also good. We have some positive things happening. Good stuff!
I want you to put yourself in my shoes. You've just been told you'll be moving one step closer to your dream. How would you approach the games? Do you still go 100 percent, knowing that if you get hurt you may miss your window again! Or do you let up? Maybe you're not the first one in the corner. Maybe you decide not to lay down and block that shot. Do you pace yourself? What if the team that wants to sign you is still watching? I hate to admit it, but these thoughts ran through my head before games.
The funny thing was that once the game started I didn't think about anything else. I just played. That was probably the only time my mind didn't play tricks on me, when I was on the ice. Off the ice, I was what you might call a little on edge.
To be continued…
Sean Pronger, the brother of Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger, played 260 NHL games with the Ducks, Penguins, Rangers, Kings, Bruins, Blue Jackets and Canucks. After playing four years at Bowling Green, the Dryden, Ont., native bounced around several leagues, including the ECHL, IHL, AHL, NHL and Europe.