You've probably already been made aware that everyone's favorite elbow-wielding maniac Chris Pronger was hired by the NHL's Department of Player Safety as a consultant. Upon hearing this, many a commenter clucked their tongues, stroked their beards, and talked about "what's to be done with this awful decision making from the Department of Player safety?"
And these commenters have reasons to be upset, though so far I'm not seeing any of them upset for the right reasons. They're claiming that the fact that Pronger is a goon and a monster should disqualify him from making decisions about player safety and discipline. While they may be right about Pronger, the fact that Pronger knows the mindset of an offender, and also had his career cut short himself due to a severe concussion, actually provides the perfect perspective for the DoPS. Would you want a whole panel of Prongers making disciplinary decisions? Maybe not. But you want that minority voice on there, nonetheless.
The other dumb thing commenters are complaining about in regards to this situation is that Pronger is still on the Flyers' payroll as he sits out his player contract, and therefore will certainly play favorites towards the team that signs his paychecks, suspending his former team's rivals all willy-nilly and giving preferential treatment to Philadelphia players. This is stupid idiot manchild drivel, and as Greg Wyshynski explained better than I will, just simply isn't going to happen. Pronger will be paid, per contract, the same amount no matter what decisions he makes with the Department of Player Safety, and his decisions are no where near the final say within the DoPS to begin with. Pronger has no incentive to favor Philadelphia, and if he has some hidden personal bias that favors Philadelphia hiding in his head, there's a series of checks and balance now built in to the DoPS to mitigate this bogeyman bias. It's tinfoil hat idiocy to suggest otherwise.
However, the way that the NHL did in fact get it wrong here does relate to the Flyers and Pronger's paycheck. Not because he'll be loyal to them, but because the NHL hiring Pronger is a straight admission that the league knows that Pronger will never play again, and that the Flyers having him on their "Long-Term Injured Reserve" list is plain and simple salary-cap circumvention.
This is complete horseshit from the NHL.
If Pronger officially retired from the NHL, his salary would be impacting the Flyers in a big bad way, as they would be immediately hit with about $4.9 million against their team's salary cap. With Pronger on LTIR, his salary is not impacting the salary cap in a meaningful way.
But the NHL wouldn't hire a player still active in the league, because that would cause all sorts of issues (and legitimate conflicts of interest). So we can conclude (as if we didn't know that they had already realized this) that the NHL recognizes that the Flyers are circumventing the cap, and are not only allowing it to happen, but are rewarding the player involved.
It's frustrating to sit through these work stoppages so that billionaire owners can demand more money and more rules to limit the rewards to their labor, only to watch them undermine their own rules and buck the system they themselves demanded the league institute in order to save them from themselves.
I'm glad that Pronger was hired for this role. I think he is the right man and will do a great job. But I'm frustrated that the NHL isn't punishing the Flyers for their transparent violation of the labor agreement, and no one is even pretending to conceal their tactics.
So yeah, the Philadelphia Flyers are a chickenshit organization. But we already knew that much.
Cartoon drawn by Earl Sleek, from the Battle of California vault.
Ducks @ Flyers
Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014, 4:00 PM PDT
Wells Fargo Center
Pronger suspends the Ducks' entire starting lineup, Anaheim falls 3-1 to the Flyers.