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Pronger gets off easy

Anaheim Ducks Chris Pronger skates past signs held up by fans during warm up  at Rexall Place in ...

Anaheim Ducks Chris Pronger skates past signs held up by fans during warm up at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday November 28, 2006. (Edmonton Sun Photo/Jason Franson)

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:18 PM ET

It was much a boo about nothing.

It wasn't even a good boo hoo. And it was water off a Ducks' back.

"It wasn't too bad. Obviously I expected worse,'' said Chris Pronger after his night in the barrel, returning to the Edmonton Oilers for the first time after asking to be traded only hours after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

"It was respectful, I think.''

Mike Comrie had it much worse in his first game back than Chris Pronger here last night. Heck, Tom Poti and Jason Arnott were booed worse here when they were Edmonton Oilers.

For a real good boo they needed referee Mick McGeough in a double feature.

Oh, there were some moments.

"It was nice to get it over with and win it, too,'' he said.

There were fewer than 1,000 fans sitting in their seats and only a brief boo was heard when Pronger hit the ice for warm-up. The full house wasn't waiting to pour venom on him, as many expected. But three of the better signs were already up with the fans who were in the stands.

SIGN OF THE TIMES

"Down With Pronger For Undisclosed Personal Reasons!'' was the first he likely saw.

"The Gap In Your Story Is Bigger Than The Gap In Your Teeth!'' was one at the other end of the rink.

"Chris, 1985 Phoned - They Want Their Hair Back!'' was another.

Pronger said he only saw one sign.

"There was a real nice one in the corner. It said 'Thank you, Chris.' It was the only one I saw.''

Oilers management confiscated several signs deemed to be in poor taste as fans entered the building. But the organization had a sense of humor about it, too, showing one female fan on the video board looking through a peep hole in a cardboard box on her head where the words "Pronger's No. 1 Fan'' were written.

After the national anthems the crowd got creative by alternating, "Let's Go Oilers! Pronger Sucks! Let's Go Oilers! Pronger Sucks!''

If booing and chanting "Pronger Sucks!'' can be considered classy, it was.

Before the opening faceoff, somebody threw a Pronger No. 44 Oilers jersey on the ice.

The first real boo for Pronger came at the 1:39 mark of the first period.

When Joffrey Lupul hit Pronger with a body check 11 minutes into the period, there was a huge cheer. And there was a huge boo, too, when Pronger set up Teemu Selanne for a second period goal which started the comeback.

Every time Pronger touched the puck there were boos, but as we found out here last year, the six-foot-six $6.25 million dollar man doesn't keep the puck on his stick very long.

"It's hard for people to constantly boo and watch the hockey game, too,'' said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle.

As the game progressed Edmonton had a much more immediate villain on the scene when Sean O'Donnell sent Ales Hemsky out with a shoulder injury. Brad Winchester went out to pound some flesh in a second period fight. Hemsky left the rink with his arm in a sling.

PAUSE FOR APPLAUSE

The crowd also took a time out to applaud Edmonton native Scott Niedermayer, playing his 1,000th game here last night.

"I think our team wanted to win it for two guys, one Niedermayer and the other Pronger," said Carlyle.

As it turned out, the crowd of 16,839 fans - Edmonton's 45th consecutive regular season sellout - was as interested in the Oilers stretching their league-leading winning streak to six straight and extending the league's longest streak between two teams in the same building to 13 games, dating back to Feb. 24, 1999. Both streaks were stopped.

The Oilers lost, but Edmonton fans won.

"These are hockey fans and knowledgeable fans and I'm sure they didn't want to see a few people ruin the night,'' said Carlyle.

The bottom line was that Edmonton has seen better players than Chris Pronger come and go and clearly are ready to move on.


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