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Pronger understands how Richards, Carter feel

MINNEAPOLIS -- Defenseman Chris Pronger played for four other NHL teams before being dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers on the second day of the 2009 Entry Draft in Montreal.

 

He remembers the day well and has a pretty good idea the wave of emotions that former Philadelphia teammates Jeff Carter and Mike Richards might be experiencing on the day after general manager Paul Holmgren orchestrated two of the boldest moves in franchise history.

 

"It (stinks) as a teammate," Pronger told the media during a conference call on Friday. "You hate to see guys go. They were, for all intents and purposes, the face of the franchise for four of those six years, if not for the six years they were here. I'm sure it's tough for them. The Philadelphia Flyers, it's all they really know. I've gone through it a number of times, and sometimes a move is healthy for you."

 

Holmgren sent Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets for right wing Jakub Voracek, the No. 8 pick and a third-round pick (No. 68) of the 2011 Entry Draft. Richards was traded to the Los Angeles Kings for right wing Wayne Simmonds, center Brayden Schenn and a second-round pick in the 2012 draft.

 

In one final move following the blockbuster deals, the Flyers signed goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a contract reportedly worth $51.5 million over nine years.

 

"I think when you make a move like that to get a goalie and you've got to pay him, you've got to get the money somewhere," Pronger said. "Time and again, in the salary cap era, you've got to give to get. Unfortunately for us, (Carter and Richards) were traded."

 

Pronger said he hadn't reached out to either Carter or Richards yet, but will at some point.

 

"Having gone through it a number of times, you kind of need a day to gather your thoughts and kind of get your wits about you," he said. "It's certainly not an easy thing. I think it makes it a little bit easier that they're both single and don't have to lug around kids, but it's still very tough to be traded and I'm sure both of them have mixed emotions."

 

During a media conference call on Thursday, Richards admitted shock after initially hearing the news.

 

"I was very shocked when I got a call from my agent, just kind of giving me the rundown on what he knew," Richards said. "I actually found out about it on the Internet a few minutes before I was able to get the confirmation from my agent about it. At first I was shocked, then I was excited."

 

Richards is a two-time 30-goal scorer who captained the Flyers to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final and won an Olympic gold medal, while Carter has scored at least 33 goals in three straight seasons.

 

Pronger admits he hasn't really thought about the makeup of the team at this point following the trades.

 

"I just heard about the trades last night, so I haven't really put a whole lot of thought to it," he said. "I'm up in the bush with my kids, fishing. I haven't put the X's and O's together. I'm sure you guys have looked at it seven ways from Sunday and tried to figure out who wins or loses but, at the end of the day, and having been traded a number of times, it's always difficult.

 

"They both played their hearts out in Philly, but sometimes you've got to make tough decisions and you've got to make moves. Sometimes it may hurt and may feel like you're making your team worse to make it better."

 

Like Voracek, Pronger moved from a Western Conference team to the East following his trade to the Flyers from Anaheim.

 

"I don't really know those other guys they brought in," Pronger said. "I played against Wayne Simmonds for one or two years when I was in Anaheim, but other than that, when you play on the East Coast, you don't really play the West very often."

 

Richards, 26, had been the team's captain the last three seasons. Pronger said it'll be up to coach Peter Laviolette and the Flyers managerial team in naming the 18th captain in team history.

 

"Obviously, I'd have to talk to Homer and Lavi and see what their thoughts are, and kind of go from there," Pronger said. "You don't nominate yourself. I've never been part of a team where somebody nominates himself. It's one day after two huge trades on our team and in the history of the Flyers, so I don't think that's in anybody's minds right now."

 

Pronger doesn't feel there were ever major issues within the locker room during his tenure with Carter and Richards, although he did mention a lack of enthusiasm on the ice. He blamed an inability to "turn the corner" during this year's playoffs.

 

The Flyers were swept by the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in the conference semifinal round.

 

"I don't think anybody would say a year ago when we went to the Stanley Cup Final that there was a chemistry problem," Pronger said. "Last year, you're coming off a tough defeat in the Stanley Cup Final in overtime, we got off to a good start, and nobody seemed to think we had a problem. As the season wore on, for whatever reason, we just didn't turn that corner and continue to get better and peak at the right time.

 

"I don't think there was necessarily a rift, I think we just needed more life in the locker room. It all has to do with your play on the ice. If you're playing well on the ice, there's never any questions as to who's doing what or is there a rift, does this guy like that guy, and all of the rest of the stuff that gets thrown out. If you play well on the ice, nobody wants to write about that because everything's going good."

 

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale