Chris Pronger (Getty Images)
Chris Pronger is reportedly interested in joining the NHL's department of player safety. No, this is not a joke. Adam Proteau says it's also not a bad idea – but Pronger has to go about it the right way.
According to Yahoo.com’s Nick Cotsonika, Chris Pronger has interviewed for a position with the NHL's Department of Player safety.
No, this is not a test of the Emergency Irony Management System. We are not testing you to see how much irony your brain could handle in theory. This is apparently actually happening, so your brain needs to be ready for it.
Some would say Pronger joining the committee responsible for player discipline is like Lex Luthor being put in charge of catering at the Hall of Justice, and I am one of those some who would say that. Of course, I joke; I have a healthy respect for Pronger, who played to the limits given to him and proved himself one of the best blueliners of all time in his 18-year NHL career. I think he's got the brains and spine for the job. If you want an honest opinion, you're never going to be disappointed by what Pronger tells you. And that's what new player safety boss Stephane Quintal should want as he gets comfortable after replacing Brendan Shanahan. You don't get a solid consensus if you have a bunch of politicians angling for the best opinion.
So I don't think it's at all out of the question for Pronger to be an asset to that department, the much bigger problem is that, while he's effectively retired thanks to concussion issues, Pronger remains under contract to the Philadelphia Flyers for the next three seasons.
Of course, having someone in the employ of a team he's being asked to possibly punish through a suspension is a massive red flag for the credibility of all involved, including the league itself.
It doesn't matter that Pronger would recuse himself from any suspensions connected to the Flyers; what about suspensions of players on teams in the Flyers' division? It's not likely Pronger would ever act so improperly, but the possibility and perception that it could happen is all the reason needed to reiterate that it must not happen. It hollows out any pretense of the separation between church and state when it comes to NHL suspensions, and if the only reason it's being considered is they don't think Pronger should be made to wait, they're wrong. It's unfortunate he's been affected by a head injury and vision problems, but Pronger is still being paid as an active player and has to abide by the rules that govern that type of league employee.
Shanahan showed us that a player who had his own run-ins with the NHL's disciplinarian could perform capably in the role, and Pronger has similar smarts and resolve. He'd also be a reporter's dream come true, what with his ability to fill notebooks whenever the mood strikes him. And he'd undoubtedly command a respect from players he was responsible for punishing.
However, he still has to get the job the right way. And fast-tracking him into the position seems to be the worst move the league could make.