Many brilliant players have passed through St. Louis during their careers. Some, like Al MacInnis, got to retire as a Blue, though that was pushed forward by injury. Others, like Brett Hull, got tangled up in Mike Keenan-related drama. Hull was forced to leave and like many Blues before and after him, had to win the Stanley Cup elsewhere.
Chris Pronger’s a bit different.
Pronger was acquired courtesy of some in-team drama and Mike Keenan’s desire to dump forward Brendan Shanahan. Shanny was shipped to Hartford in 1995 and Pronger was shipped to St. Louis.
One for one, it was one of the Blues’ best trades.
After three years with the Blues, he was named captain. He was a five-time All-Star while with the team (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004), won both the Norris and the Hart in 2000, and won the Olympic gold in 2002.
In 2000, he steered the Blues to their first Presidents Trophy, but he had to wait until 2007, when he was with the Anaheim Ducks, to win the Cup. Brewer was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in a trade so bad that people turned Eric Brewer into a permanent whipping child in response. Pronger was dealt to Edmonton for Brewer, Jeff Woywitka and Doug Lynch (fun fact: one of the picks that the Blues got for dealing Brewer to Tampa Bay eventually turned into Jordan Binnington). The Blues needed to load their salary burden to sell the team, and one could argue they were the worst for it. The season after the deal, the Blues finished dead last in the league. Coincidence? I think not.
Saturday night before the Blues’ game against the Dallas Stars, the Blues announced that Chris Pronger’s #44 would join teammates Al MacInnins and Brett Hull’s numbers in the rafters. It was as much a surprise for Pronger earlier in the day as it was for the fans that night.
Pronger: “I was very surprised. I was coming down to do a Q&A with the Hall of Fame season-ticket holders. The next thing you know, Al was trying to figure out how to break it to me.” #stlblues— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) February 9, 2020
Pronger: “Having my number retired up there with the Blues greats is very special. It’s hard to put into words because you look at the guys that are up there... Hullie, Bobby Plager, Barclay Plager, Sutter, Federko, Al ...You realize what you meant to a city and an organization.”— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) February 9, 2020
Pronger’s number retirement night will be announced pending the release of the 2020-2021 season schedule.