Chris Pronger could be entering the Hockey Hall of Fame in just two years.
TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com points out that despite the fact that the 39-year-old Pronger is still an active NHL player with the Philadelphia Flyers, if he were to retire, he could be Hall of Fame eligible in 2015.
The current Hockey Hall of Fame eligibility bylaw reads that any player who has not played in three seasons is eligible to be inducted. Pronger last played in the 2011-12 season.
"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," said Jeff Denomme, president and CEO of the Hockey Hall of Fame, to ESPN.com on 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."
Pronger has three years remaining on his current contract and would no longer get paid what he's owed if he called it a career. The Flyers, meanwhile, would not receive salary cap relief by placing him on the long-term injured list at the beginning of each season and wouldn't recoup the $4.94 million cap space. They can't buy him out either, since he is still injured.
Despite the by-law, Lebrun says the decision would ultimately have to be made by the Hockey Hall of Fame's board of directors, who may not consider him given his current active NHL status. The decision could also hinge upon the board being completely convinced Pronger won't return to the ice.
"Any time people talk about things like that, it's always an honour to be regarded in that light, but I think it would be a bit early to put myself in that esteemed group, I'm not too worried about it," Pronger told ESPN.com. "I don't think anybody who has ever played the game, that was their goal, it's a by-product of the way you played the game. It's a great honour to be thought about in that regard, though."
Pronger is still suffering from post-concussion symptoms from an incident in October of 2011. Should his career be over, the Dryden, ON, native would finish with 1,167 games played, including time with the Hartford Whalers, St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks and the Flyers. He has 698 points and 1,590 penalty minutes.