Sidelined since November 2011 with injuries, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger has taken a part-time job with the NHL's Department of Player Safety.
In his side gig, Pronger will help the department with small tasks such as data entry, document filing, answering telephones and offering his input into league suspensions for dangerous or reckless plays that could impact the status or standings of the Flyers. After a lengthy time off the ice, Pronger described his new apprenticeship as a great way to get out of the house.
"Oh, it's just something for me to do in my spare time," Pronger said from his home in St. Louis. "It's a small project to keep me busy. Should be fun."
Pronger will remain on the Flyers' payroll while also working freelance for the Department of Player Safety. He will work three or four afternoons a week, possibly some weekends, and will not be scheduled on days in which decisions will be made on disciplinary actions involving Flyers players.
"My wife and kids are getting sick of me hanging around all the time," Pronger joked. "They keep saying, 'Dad, you need to find a hobby.' So I decided to get into collecting suspensions of current players. This is a great place to start."
A veteran of 18 NHL seasons with Hartford, St. Louis, Edmonton, Anaheim and Philadelphia, Pronger is no stranger to being disciplined by the NHL. He has been suspended eight times in his career, most recently an eight game ban for stomping on the leg of center Ryan Kesler in 2008.
That experience makes his new part-time job less of a chore and more of a labor of love.
"I know what it's like to be a player and what it's like to be suspended," he said. "It will be cool to see how things happen behind-the-scenes. Gosh, I hope I don't get nervous."
NHL head of Player Safety Stephane Quintal says having a current team employee interning with the league will not violate any rules and that Pronger has filled out all the necessary paperwork to take the job.
"We have letters from the commissioner, the Flyers, his doctors and his parents," Quintal said. "We're happy to add a young up-and-coming go-getter like Christopher to our office."
While some observers wonder whether a player who is still being paid by an NHL team having a say in important decisions about that team's opponents represents a conflict of interest, Pronger doesn't see any problems with a little moonlighting.
"I'm not doing it for the money," said Pronger, who will take home over $4 million this year from the Flyers. "I'm doing it because I enjoy the work, the feeling of accomplishment and the fact that I can now get revenge on my many enemies without having to see them on the ice."
Chris Pronger never said any of this, but he is working for the NHL now. So if your favorite player gets suspended, you can just blame him and/or Flyers owner Ed Snider.