Hochman: Back in ‘The Greatest Show’ and ‘Country Grammar’ days, Blues’ Pronger was an international star in St. Louis | Subscriber only
“A very unpopular trade at first,” Mike Keenan, the man who closed the deal, said by phone Sunday. “I was instructed by the property at the time to dump the salaries – (some) were too high. … They were a bit judgmental, the fans overall, I think at the start – until they’re starting to realize how good Chris was, and Chris was seven years younger than Brendan Shanahan.
Now, it’s entirely possible that if Shanahan weren’t traded, his number 19 would be in the rafters – like Pronger, Shanahan is also a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. But Keenan traded for a player whose number would be retired, a defensive threat that made three All-Star teams for St. Louis. The 1999–2000 team won the President’s Trophy for most points in the regular season. That season, Pronger was an incredible plus-52 – league best.
From 1997 to 2004, he averaged 0.52 assists per game.
“It changes the dynamic of your team when you’re bad and you’re mean – and you make those assists like that,” Janssen said.
Credit Keenan. The man made mistakes as a coach and general manager, but he was successful in the Pronger trade. Now 72, Keenan recalled the exchange over the phone – specifically information he got from former “resources”. See, before his long coaching career in the NHL, Keenan coached in the Ontario Hockey League. His club was the Peterborough Petes. Well, it was Pronger’s team.