Pronger gets defensive

St. Louis Blues defenceman Chris Pronger urges lower-salaried players to give careful consideration...

St. Louis Blues defenceman Chris Pronger urges lower-salaried players to give careful consideration before they agree to be replacement players, if the NHL declares an impasse to the current labour stoppage. (Bruce Bennett Studios)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 3:14 PM ET

If you're a replacement player who still has an NHL spot when the league resumes play, it would be smart to avoid Chris Pronger on the ice in games against the St. Louis Blues.

He's also growing impatient with the lack of negotiating.

Pronger, in Mississauga yesterday to announce the Ontario Hockey League roster for two games next month in the 2004 Canada-Russia Challenge, said he understands that some lower-salary players might think hard about reporting to training camps next year even if the lockout remains on.

"As we all know, the league is going to go back to work at some point and for those guys who cross, we'll see what happens to them," said the 6-foot-6 defenceman, who is a part-owner of the Mississauga IceDogs. "Eventually you have to go back in the locker room and if it's a guy who has been in the league (who crossed), they are going to have a tough time looking at teammates."

The issues involved in the lockout are eating at him. He told the Peterborough Examiner this week he is not overjoyed with the lack of negotiating.

"If all the energy we've seen being wasted on public relations could be spent negotiating a deal, we could probably be halfway done a deal," Pronger said. "Realistically, who cares whose side you are on, neither one of us looks good."

Among the OHLers who will suit up against Russia are goalie David Shantz, defenceman Kyle Quincey and forward Cody Bass of the IceDogs, defenceman Nathan McIver of the St. Michael's Majors and forward Wojtek Wolski of the Brampton Battalion. Canada also will have two clubs made up of players from the Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. There are no Maple Leafs prospects playing for the Canadian teams.

Russian officials have promised to send a better club after Canada went 5-1 in the event last winter.


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