A month ago, it was announced that Chris Pronger was hired by the National Hockey League to work in the league’s Department of Player Safety. I wrote about his hiring and there potentially being a “conflict of interest” because Chris Pronger has not officially retired as a player, even though he played his last game as a player three years ago. (Pronger is still currently under contract with the Flyers, but they have him on long-term injured reserve to avoid a cap hit). My post about this is here.
This saga now has just taken another weird turn. Chris Pronger is eligible to be considered for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Say what? This former (dirty) player has NOT officially retired, yet he can be considered for the hall of fame? How is that even possible for someone who hasn’t even retired? I know it’s been three years since Pronger has been able to play, but seriously? It makes absolutely no sense to me.
NHL Hall of Fame President and CEO Jack Denomme stated in Pierre LeBrun’s article on ESPN:
“The new by-law imposes a more objective test for the three-year eligibility rule applicable to player candidates, in particular, resolving possible ambiguity as to the nomination of a player who has not played for more than three years due to injury, but who is still under contract and continues to receive compensation that counts for salary cap purposes or otherwise…”
Denomme went on to state that this isn’t just about Pronger. He (Denomme) included “here could be other players moving forward who are in a similar circumstance and the HHOF board doesn’t feel it should be concerned with medical or contractual issues when it comes to determining induction eligibility…”
Currently, the by-law regarding consideration to the hall of fame is stated as "a candidate for election in the player category must have concluded his or her career as an active player for a minimum of three playing seasons before his or her election." As of right now, a player would have had to announce they’re done playing before this consideration. The new by-law would state "a candidate is not eligible for election in the player category if he or she has played in a professional or international hockey game (which terms shall not be considered to include games played only or primarily for charitable or recreational purposes) during any of the three playing seasons immediately prior to his or her election." (The new by-law is subject to ratification, which is expected in March)."
So, what this means is that even though Pronger hasn’t announced his retirement (and hasn’t played a game since November 2011), he’s going to be eligible for consideration under the new by-law, even though he is still under contract with the Flyers (and is until 2017).
Whatever happened to a player retiring before being considered for any Hall of Fame ballot or being hired by the league office? I guess that according to the league and the Hall of Fame, that isn't going to have any effect--which is unfair to those who are retired and should be considered for voting into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Personally, I don't think he warrants consideration. Yes, he did win the Hart Trophy back in 2000. However, he has a history of dirty play (such as stomping on Ryan Kesler's leg with his skate, in which he received an eight game suspension) and I don't think he should received first ballot consideration.
Link to Pierre LeBrun's article is here.