July 4, 2006
Let me make this perfectly unclear ...Pronger still hasn't set the record straight
By ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun
Chris Pronger handled the questions like he handles the puck - smoothly, deftly and always in control.
Ten tumultuous, rumour-filled days after requesting a trade out of Edmonton, the superstar defenceman finally broke his silence yesterday on a conference call of Edmonton reporters. But in what was supposed to be his long-awaited chance to set the record straight, Pronger never did, stickhandling around the meat of the matter like he was running a breakout drill.
He called the virtual scrum minutes after GM Kevin Lowe moved him to Anaheim, but his explanation never got beyond "personal reasons," the vague, off-limits-to-further-questioning response his camp had been sticking to since the mess began.
PRIVATE AND PERSONAL
"To be honest, it's really just a private matter, a personal matter between my family and I and I'm not going to get into what's gone on in my household," he said.
"It was a long and tough decision and eventually we came to this mindset. We certainly wish it would have worked out. Kevin stepped up and got me to Edmonton and I wanted to show that commitment to them. It's just unfortunate that it didn't work out.
"It not an easy situation for anybody. For Kevin to be able to get this done in a timely fashion is certainly appreciated on our part, myself and Lauren and the boys."
Was it something about Edmonton?
"I'm not going to get into 'he said she said.' I've already explained the reasons why. It's not going to get into specifics."
The only hint he gave that his family wasn't comfortable here came when I asked how leaving Edmonton was going to fix those "personal reasons."
"When you sit down and talk to your family and you want to find out what is going to make things better, and they say 'a move,' you've got to abide by that," he said. "It's something you try and change, but at the end of the day, when it doesn't happen, you've got to take measures that not everybody is going to understand or appreciate."
So there you go. As much as everyone wants to examine the clues for conspiracy theories or climb into the gutter in a desperate search for smut, it sounds like the Prongers just didn't want to live here anymore.
And that's his call. You don't have to like it or respect it, and I don't, but for whatever reason, whether his wife is calling the shots or his sons, hard as it is to believe, would rather live at Disneyland than here, it's his choice and he's choosing his family over Edmonton.
That's one of the perks of elevating yourself to the best in the world at your position: If your family desperately wants out of a city you'd just been transferred to, you don't have to tell them no.
True, he should have known what he was getting into when he signed a four-year contract extension to play here, but if they gave it an honest try and just aren't happy, something has to give - either the family or the contract.
"(The deal) was done with the best of intentions," said agent Pat Morris. "The result isn't what the fans of Edmonton or the Oilers want, but it's what Chris needs with respect to his family. We all go through issues in life and the majority of people in any city would choose their family over business any day. We hope (Edmontonians) understand and respect that."
Most of them probably don't, and that's their call, just like it's Pronger's call to leave. He knows how unpopular this makes him in Edmonton (move over Mike Comrie), but assures you the feeling is not mutual.
"It's tough leaving," he said. "It wasn't exactly an easy decision. Some people think it was but it wasn't. With everything that's gone on and the year that we had, it's tough to leave.
"It's a year I'll never forget. It's obviously the farthest I've ever gone in the Stanley Cup. We had an amazing ride.
"I want to thank them for being there and being supportive and hope they can understand that this is a family matter and a private matter and certainly doesn't reflect on them or the hockey team or the organization. It's tough. I can certainly understand and feel for them, but I hope that at the end of the day they can understand my situation as well."
The Edmonton Oilers have acquired right wing Joffrey Lupul and defenceman Ladislav Smid from the Anaheim Ducks, along with Anaheim's first-round draft choice in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, a conditional first-round draft choice and their second-round draft choice in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft in exchange for defenceman Chris Pronger.