Speaking with Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy in a two-part series to be aired on Sportsnet Wednesday and Thursday, the first thing you notice is the absence of Pronger’s trademark swagger. It is a time of weakness, a side of Pronger we have never been privy to — like Samson after the haircut. A guy who never gave an inch is now about 30 yards behind the battle, and unsure — that’s right, Pronger is not at all confident here — if he will catch up.
“What’s happened was I had 30-year-old eyes. I got hit and the doctor told me I had 60-year-old eyes,” the former Hartford Whaler, St. Louis Blue, Edmonton Oiler, Anaheim Duck and Philadelphia Flyer tells Murphy. “I don’t have very good peripheral vision. That so-called sixth sense? I used to really have a good one. Now, I couldn’t feel anybody comin’ around a corner. My kids scare me all the time. “That used to be what I was known for: knowing where everybody was; having a feel for who was around me. Now I don’t have that.”
“It’s gotten a little bit better. I can leave the house, go do the stuff,” he said of the symptoms that followed a stick in the eye, Oct. 24, 2011, and a subsequent head trauma in a game about three weeks later. “If I do too much I may get a headache. Occasionally, if I start to feel a bit better I do a bit more, and I get nauseous.”
Such a dramatic change in a short period of time. Doesn’t feel that long ago that fans were upset with Chris for him not being more up-front about his injury status, now we learn that the man can barely leave his house over a year after his injury. Makes you appreciate the small things in life, really. What’s the point of being a retired millionaire if every time you see direct sunlight you get dizzy and nauseous?
With so much talk about the NFL and the lingering effects unattended concussions and other head trauma have on players, it’s probably time the NHL explore to see how many of their retirees have similar issues. It’s probably not as bad as it is for NFL running backs and defensive players, but with certain guys staying in the NHL well into their mid-late 30′s I’m sure Pronger isn’t the only one with mashed-up brains.