Chris Pronger might not be ready for training camp, but, when he does return, he likes what's shaping up in Philadelphia.
Speaking on the Mike Richards morning show on TSN1050, the 36-year-old said he's behind in his rehabilitation from offseason back surgery.
"I'm still probably three, three and a half weeks away from being able to train hard. I'm still walking on the treadmill, light bike riding. The back doctor wanted 12 weeks for me not doing a whole lot to allow that back area to scar up and then fully heal up before I start torquing and pushing on it hard," said Pronger, who needed to remove a herniated disc that caused him back and leg problems.
"I would say I'm quite a bit behind where I would be training-wise and working out-wise. Whether I'm at camp or not, I don't know that yet, it's still early to tell. I would guess I would not be starting camp just from the mere fact that I haven't been able to work out at all yet. I'm skinny to begin with, and now I'm looking really skinny."
Pronger played just 50 games this season, as he battled back and wrist injuries. It was his lowest regular season game output since the 2002-03 season. But he said he's motivated and still wants to compete for a Stanley Cup. The Flyers were swept by the eventual cup-champion Bruins in the second round.
"You want to win, you want to get back to the top and hold the Stanley Cup and go through that year of blood, sweat and tears with your teammates, and accomplishing something that very few people have an opportunity to do. Hopefully the rest of the summer goes well, and I continue to get healthy and things go in the right direction for me there," he said. "We got off to a good start after a long grind of the playoffs from the previous year. Whether we hit a wall or whatever halfway through the year after Christmas, we just didn't seem to get any better. We didn't continue to push ourselves for whatever reason. It was almost like our development got stunted and we almost got worse.
"In my opinion that was our downfall."
Pronger said that the playoff disappointment led to the eventual overhaul of a franchise that was just two years removed from competing the in the Stanley Cup Final. Gone was centre Jeff Carter to Columbus for Jakub Voracek and draft picks. On the same day, captain Mike Richards was dealt to L.A. for Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn.
Those two moves led directly to the cap space needed to sign Ilya Bryzgalov to the a 9-year, $54 million deal with the Flyers, addressing what many believe was one of the franchise's traditional glaring weaknesses.
"I think with the way we exited in the playoffs last year, and our owner coming out and asking to get a goalie, that puts a little bit of cash restraints on your team with respect to the salary cap," Pronger said. "Moves have to be made. In order to free up money, you have to give up good players, and we obviously did that with both Mike and Jeff.
"But in return for those guys, we got a lot younger, a little bigger up front and a little bit more gritty, and I think that was something we were missing in the playoffs. As we all know, grit seems to show up well in the playoffs. Hopefully we've strengthened ourselves, not only in goal, but up front with a few more physical players. Both those guys are going to be sorely missed, they're big parts of the Flyers for a number of years. Hopefully we don't miss them too much this year."
A one-time teammate of Bryzgalov's in Anaheim, Pronger said that the goalie will instill confidence in the team around him.
"You're not worried about the puck going towards your net, you're not worried about having to block every single shot. In fact, you're probably getting out of the way, so he can just stand in front and stop them and direct them into somewhere where you can get the puck and break out and get on the attack," Pronger said. "I'm certainly hoping he's the answer and he lives up to the billing because I've seen what he can do when he's hot and he's definitely a great goalie."