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Chris Pronger is flying right

Philadelphia coveted the defenseman's toughness, which the Ducks will get a reminder of today.

October 10, 2009|Helene Elliott

Chris Pronger was born 35 years ago today, a few months after the Philadelphia Flyers won the first of two straight Stanley Cup championships.

They haven't won the Cup since. Acquiring Pronger, a versatile, minute-gobbling defenseman with a mean streak as deep as he is tall, could go a long way toward ending that drought.

Pronger was a vital part of the Ducks' 2007 Cup team, but his contract was due to expire after this season and they didn't want to be shackled with a long extension. They needed second-line scoring, youth on defense and assets to replenish their talent on the fly. They got that in Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa and two first-round draft picks, though they will miss Pronger's physical presence.

The Flyers, who still celebrate their Broad Street Bullies heritage, needed the muscle to tame conference rivals Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin. They got that in Pronger, who will face his former teammates today at the Wachovia Center for the first time since the trade.

"I think just with the tradition of this organization and the way that they've played over the years and the style that they want to play, I think I do fit into this culture and this system very well," said Pronger, who's averaging 26 minutes 55 seconds' ice time, has four assists and is plus-4 in four games with the Flyers (3-1).

"It's tailor-made for my style of play and I'm pretty excited."

Pronger was the center of trade rumors most of last season, especially around the All-Star game. The Ducks kept him for another Cup run, but they lost a seven-game, second-round playoff series to Detroit. The defeat emphasized their need for youth and secondary scoring. Pronger said General Manager Bob Murray never offered him a contract extension but did update him on where he might end up.

"The writing was pretty much on the wall," Pronger said. "I had a straightforward talk with Bob about a week and a half prior to the draft and gauged from that conversation that things weren't going to be moving forward with the Ducks and I was most likely going to be traded.

"I started preparing myself after the season for what ultimately was going to happen. I was fortunate enough that I was able to land in a good position here, with a good, young team that's got a lot of upside."

Although he has been traded three times before -- Hartford to St. Louis, St. Louis to Edmonton and Edmonton to Anaheim -- Pronger said today's game would be especially emotional for him because he remembers his Ducks career so fondly.

"They were three excellent years. I had a great time in Anaheim," he said. "I met a lot of great people throughout the community, people that I'll probably keep in touch with for the rest of my life. Good friends. And obviously when you win a Cup, you form a bond with the players on that team, and that group of players will always be in each other's minds, I'm sure, as it was the first Cup for virtually all of us. . . .

"When you have things like that happen to you in your hockey career, it's hard to let things go like that, but again, we're professionals and we move on. But there's always a soft spot for that team in the back of your mind."

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helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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