In the wake of his new team losing 5 of their last 6 games, Chris Pronger today made some candid comments to CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio. In the interview the former cup winner, gold medalist and captain of two NHL clubs stated his awkward position of not wanting to step on Mike Richards toes, aswell as his frustration over the teams recent performance.
I plucked some interesting quotes below but here is the full link…
“He hasn’t asked me for any help,” Pronger said of Richards. “I’ve been in his shoes. It’s not [bleeping] easy. The expectations are high on him and on the team. We’re not playing to the best of our abilities, and a lot of that gets shouldered by the captain.
“Sometimes it’s fair and just and sometimes it’s not, and it’s hard to deal with that, especially at [his] age. You’re trying to figure out yourself. At 24, some kids are coming out of college, business school, some don’t even have a job at 24.”
“[Richards] hasn’t come to me [to] ask me anything, and it’s delicate because at the end of the day, it’s his team,” Pronger said. “He’s the captain. He needs to show the rest of the players that it is his team. I don’t want to be the guy that has to stand up every day and tell ourselves to look into the mirror and play better and all this stuff.
“I don’t know if he is ‘rah-rah’ type or talkative type. It is a difficult tightrope to walk. I don’t want to step on his toes. Maybe he is evaluating. You can’t just jump into a situation and ranting and raving without understanding what has gone on here in the past, as well.
“He’s been here four years and sees how things have progressed from being a s—-y team to a pretty good team, to having even higher expectations. I would think he has a better read on some of these guys than I do.
“I think Homer is right. [Richards] has to trust his instincts that got him to where he is at. That is something you learn early on. Especially, when you struggle to play the game sometimes, which we all do.”
Pronger said if Richards is questioning his own instincts, “if he’s already at that point, then I think we’ll see something within the next few days. If he’s trying to trust his gut or ask for help. I know Homer has talked to him”
“The expectations are high, you want to accept that challenge and embrace it and overcome it, but there is the idea you want it too badly or push it too much,” Pronger said. “You try too hard to score a goal when the simple play is to throw if off the goalie’s pads and the teammate who’s driving the net, bangs it in. Little things like that get lost in the shuffle of what you are doing. … You try to make the game more difficult than it is.”
Coach John Stevens has emphasized that the effort is there but not the results.
“It’s not like we’re not working hard or just out there bleeping around,” Pronger added. “We’re not putting the puck in the net. Little things like that, sometimes, you over-evaluate and over-analyze things. The simplest thing is to take a step back and look at it from a simple perspective.”
“How could we have won that game in Atlanta?” Pronger asked. “Could it have been that [3-minute] power play? Absolutely! Could it have been not to take that bleeping penalty-and go down 5-on-3? Absolutely! How about scoring some goals 5-on-5? ”
“Instead of Richie one-timing it and instead of [the puck] going into the corner, maybe it goes off his mask into the net? There’s a lot of different things. If you want to analyze, there are 10, 12, 15 things that happen in the course of a game that could change a game and have it go either way.”
“When you are not playing as well as we had been, and playing like crap on that road trip and losing and losing and then you are starting to come out of it, and playing a little bit better, you are still going to lose coming up that slope.”
“We’re losing games we should win right now, but hopefully, we’re over the crest, we can see the top and start scoring some goals and win,” he said.
“We need to make it [bleeping] happen on Thursday,” Pronger said. “It needs to [bleeping] happen now, so we can get over that hump and get this ship headed into the right direction.”
I could not be happier to read some of these comments from Pronger. Jeff Carter and Mike Richards the supposed “leaders” of this team are coming off of just a horrendous stretch of games in which the two have appeared absolutely listless in their play.
Always touted as a heart and soul grinder who is at his best when playing a simple hard-nosed style, Mike Richards has clearly over complicated his game. Blind centering passes and a lack of physical play have been his biggest offenses.
It’s time for this guy to step up and lead HIS team. He is no longer surrounded with just his drinking buddies, there are veterans around him in Pronger and Ian Laperriere who know what it takes to win and know how to lead. Turn it around or there might be a new captain way sooner than anyone expected.