Bell Centre an "odd" barn: Pronger

DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:58 PM ET

TORONTO - Hulking Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger isn’t taking sides when it comes to fellow defenceman Zdeno Chara’s devastating hit on Max Pacioretty in Montreal on Tuesday night. The Bruins captain sent Pacioretty head-first into a glass partition, knocking the Canadiens forward unconscious and sending him to a hospital with a severe concussion and fractured vertebra.

In fact, the 6-foot-6 Pronger seemed rather perturbed talking about the Tuesday night incident to a throng of reporters gathered at his stall after Philadelphia skated at the ACC in preparation for its Thursday night game against the Leafs.

“It’s not my place to comment on it. I wasn’t involved in it and I don’t think we should put anything into it more than what the league is doing,” Pronger told reporters.

However, the three-time Stanley Cup finalist did say something which made it seem as if he didn’t think Chara was totally to blame for the incident.

“I think the configuration of Montreal’s rink is a little odd in that respect, where you’ve got both benches and then you’ve got a little bit of glass there. I’ve seen that happen a couple of times there, but obviously not to that extent,” Pronger said of the Bell Centre.

‘GAME TO GO AGAIN’

Prior to last night’s meeting at the Air Canada Centre, the Maple Leafs played the Flyers a week ago in Philadelphia, where they skated away with a 3-2 victory, and 6-foot-7 defenceman Keith Aulie skated away with a new nickname, Muhammad Aulie.

Aulie picked up the nifty handle for a devastating right hand that sent Flyers forward Scott Hartnell to his knees. Whether or not there was a Round 2 at the ACC, Aulie said after the morning skate he was reading to get back in the ring.

“Nothing’s too premeditated with these things with me,” Aulie said. “I just try to be aggressive out there and do my job. If things get heated up again, I’m game to go again. I just want to stay in guys’ faces and make it hard for them to play.”

PRAISE BE TO AULIE

Everybody in the Leafs organization has been very impressed with how well the 21-year-old Aulie has played since stepping into the lineup full-time after veteran defenceman Francois Beauchemin was shipped back to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Joffrey Lupul.

(Leafs GM Brian Burke) “asked for him in the trade with Calgary (last season that sent several Leafs to the Flames for now-captain Dion Phaneuf). They knew how good he was going to be,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said after the morning skate. “Fortunately, he has developed a hair faster than we had expected and some of the reasons behind the other trades that Brian was able to stock our cupboards with draft choices was trying to clear a spot for Keith because we thought he was ready and so far he has shown that he is.”

In 25 games with the Leafs, Aulie is averaging 17:38 minutes of ice time playing alongside Phaneuf, and he potted his first NHL goal on Tuesday in a loss to the Islanders.

LOOSE LEAFS

Aulie on Pacioretty being knocked cold by Chara. “You never want to see a guy get hurt like that, but there’s a lot of ways you can get hurt in the game and thank God we haven’t seen this more than we have.” … The Leafs aren’t sitting in a playoff spot, but viewers are tuning in as if they were Stanley Cup contenders. National television broadcasts are averaging 1,103,000 viewers, an increase of 7.8%. Regional game broadcasts (all of Ontario, except the Ottawa Valley) are benefiting from a 13.5% increase in viewership with an average audience of 596,000, compared to 525,000 last year, according to BBM Nielsen Media Research.


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