SPORTS

Chris Pronger hired to work in NHL department of player safety

10/10/2014 07:39 EDT | Updated 12/10/2014 05:59 EST
The NHL has hired Chris Pronger to work in the department of player safety, deciding that having the future Hall of Fame defenceman in its office was worth the perceived conflict of interest.

Pronger, whose career was ended by post-concussion symptoms almost three years ago, will continue to be on the Philadelphia Flyers' long-term injured reserve.

That was the only option for the team and league because if Pronger retired his cap hit of just under US$5 million would count against the Flyers' salary cap.

"Chris's case is unique," commissioner Gary Bettman said earlier in the week during his season-opening news conference in Los Angeles. "There are salary-cap reasons why he couldn't officially retire, but ... if in fact we go that route, I'm not sure that presents any problem at all to deal with. He's done playing. He gets paid no matter what from the Flyers. He doesn't owe them anything."

Pronger will not take part in deliberations having to do with the Flyers, just as Patrick Burke abstains from those with the Calgary Flames, where his father, Brian, is president of hockey operations.

The 39-year-old was suspended for a total of 20 regular-season and two playoff games during his playing career.

Pronger will work under new vice president of player safety Stephane Quintal, who replaced Brendan Shanahan when he became president of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Dryden, Ont., native who won two Olympic gold medals while representing Canada had been working in a scouting capacity for the Flyers.

"We have no interest in stopping Chris from getting on with his life," Philadelphia GM Ron Hextall told reporters Thursday night. "I’ll tell you that much."

As for the negative salary-cap implications that would follow if Pronger were not allowed to remain on LTIR, Hextall said "that's a different story."

Pronger's cap hit would continue to count if he retired or was placed on another kind of injured list because his current US$34.55-million, seven-year contract began after he turned 35.

After taking an inadvertent high stick to the eye from then-Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski on Oct. 24, Pronger began having vision and other problems. His last NHL game was Nov. 19, 2011.

___

With files from The Associated Press.

Follow @SWhyno on Twitter

MORE:cpSports