03 August 2005

O, Captain! My Captain!

At least I was prepared.

The moment it happened, before I knew about it, KO and I were talking hockey (big shocker, I know...).

Since her team's captain (and all-around inspiration) Stevie Y signed a one-year to ride out into the Motor City sunset in style, I mentioned how my team's captain will also be taking a trip...only away from the Arch and well before retiring.

"It's only a matter of time till Prongs is gone", I said.

"You think," she quiped.

"Oh yeah, they only signed the qualifying offer so they could get something for him...he's as good as gone."

Then, I began thinking of the players the Blues could get for the best defensive blueliner in the game.

Atlanta? Unlikely, but if it happened....Braydon Coburn and a top 2 forward.

and the one I thought was mostly likely to happen? Florida...home of Mike Keenan, Prongs' first coach with the Note.

The price? Jay Bowmeester and Stephen Weiss. Sounds like a deal to me.

Then, it happened.

Pronger Headed to Edmonton

The trade: The Blues' captain to the Oilers for Eric Brewer, Jeff Woywitka, and Doug Lynch. Not as sexy as the FLA deal, but not bad either.

Here's the insider scoop on the deal from E.J Hradek's blog on ESPN.com:
Pronger Goes North
Strange things can happen in the wee hours. Strange things like Chris Pronger getting traded to the Edmonton Oilers! The Blues announced the deal about 1 a.m. ET.

The Blues, who could not afford to keep the former Hart and Norris trophy winner, sent him to the Oilers for a trio of young defenseman. All-Star Eric Brewer, former Flyers first-round pick (2001) Jeff Woywitka and second-round pick ('01) Eric Lynch will go to the Blues for Pronger.
The inclusion of Brewer in the deal tells me that Oilers GM Kevin Lowe must have some assurances that he can sign Pronger to a long-term deal. If not, Pronger is a one-year, $7.22 million rental for the Oilers. Without a new deal, Pronger can skate away as an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Under the circumstances, it's a good deal for the Blues. They get Brewer, a proven NHL defender. He was part of Canada's Olympic gold medal team in 2002 and the nation's World Cup of Hockey championship squad in 2004. Best yet, the 26-year-old Brewer is scheduled to earn $2.014 million during the upcoming season.

Woywitka has a two-way deal that pays him $570,000 at the NHL level. And, Lynch has a similar two-way deal. Lynch gets $456,000 (plus a $76,000 bonus), if he's playing in the NHL.
Suffice to say, the conversation proved not only prophetic, but healing at the same time. It prepared me for the tough news...helped me look at the big picture.

At 26, Brewer is built much like Pronger, with a similar offensive makeup.
Woywitka is an up-and-coming prospect that'll help shore up the blue line by 2006.
Lynch, a throw-in, could help out the current roster.

All in all, things could be worse. It'll be odd not seeing #44 whipping rink long passes right on the tape, cleaning a goon's clock, or slapping a PP one-timer from the blue line.

In fact, the only time I'll see that again is on the sweater hanging in my closet.
The sweater of a former Blue.

What makes it harder is not having Big Al around either. But, in the long run, it all makes too much sense.

Later, Cap. Even if the next soul to don the "C" is just keeping it warm for Jackman, It'll be hard to fit on another man's chest.
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