Pronger's departure still mystifies

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

Chris Pronger finally faced the music in Edmonton. And he didn't change his tune.

Pronger never manned up about it, never came out and said why he decided to ask to be traded from Edmonton only hours after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. And he still hasn't.

"My answer is not changing,'' he said as he sat down at a dais in an elaborate press conference setting at the Hotel Macdonald.

"Personal family reasons,'' he said.

"I am not going to denigrate myself or my family,'' he added of substantiating any rumours which have circulated throughout the hockey world since he was granted a trade to the Anaheim Ducks.

The Ducks rented the Empire Ballroom, where two giant chandeliers hung from the ceiling high over Pronger's head and where eight other chandeliers adorned the walls.

The Ducks media relations staff shipped their press conference logo background tarp ahead for the event, which was broadcast live by several media outlets as is an Edmonton tradition with most major hockey moments.

DRESSED IN BLACK

Pronger, dressed in black, entered the room about 20 minutes after the team bus had arrived on a -23o C (-33o with wind chill). It was +15C in Anaheim.

Taking a few small sheets of paper out of his pocket, the six-foot-six defenceman asked to say a few words before the questioning.

"There are a few things which have gone by the wayside in the media madness,'' he began.

"I'd like to thank MacT and the coaching staff for the work they did helping us to live up to our expectationso and dreams," he said of coach Craig MacTavish.

"The team is in good hands with Kevin Lowe at the helm,'' he added of the GM.

"I had a good time here last year ... it was one game short of being an unbelievable one.''

He said he wanted to say it was a pleasure playing before "some of the greatest fans in the world."

He even went back and repeated some words he uttered well into the playoffs which, in retrospect, seemed out of place when he knew at the time he was going to ask to leave Edmonton.

"I had a great year here. That was the most fun I had in hockey in a long time. It was a year I'll never forget.''

In questioning he went further, saying he understands why Edmonton fans would want to boo him beyond belief tonight.

"I can understand it from a fan's perspective. There was a lot of speculation on why I wanted to request a trade. They couldn't understand why I would not stay here."

He never once mentioned his wife, who many have indicated insisted on his playing elsewhere. The closest he came was when he said "I have to live my life for my family."

But there was nothing he said last night which is likely to soften the response of the fans tonight at Rexall Place.

FACING THE MUSIC

He didn't say he had any regrets about the timing, or not coming to Edmonton to face the music at any point prior to last night.

"It happened fast. We finished on a Monday and the draft was Friday. It is what it is.''

Asked if he had to do it all again if he would do anything different, Pronger said "No. I'd probably do it the same way.''

He's prepared for the booing, especially after Calgary gave him the gears on behalf of Edmonton recently.

"I'm sure it'll be loud and boisterous. I'm sure there will be signs and booing.''

He said Edmonton fans have that right.

"I don't think booing bothers you when you're expecting it,'' he said, adding if there wasn't booing that would be more likely to throw him off his game.

"The fans are paying the money. They can do what they want.''

You pay the dollar, you get to holler.

Bring it on. Chris Pronger expects it, and deep down I believe he knows he deserves to hear you give him your vocal displeasure at a decibel level which was music to his ears last year in the playoffs.

But keep it classy and professional. He was a classy and professional Oiler.


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