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September 12, 2006

Chris Pronger

DAVID KEON: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm David Keon of the National Hockey League's public relations department. I'd like to welcome you to this afternoon's call. With us we have Anaheim Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger. Thanks to Chris for taking the time to answer your questions and thanks to Alex Gilchrist and Merit Tully of the Ducks public relations department for arranging the call.
Chris is currently preparing his 13th NHL season, first with the Ducks. The 31-year-old Dryden, Ontario native coming off the second highest scoring season, tallying 56 points on 12 goals and 44 assists, while averaging close to 28 minutes of ice time per game. In the playoffs last year, his ice time increased to 31 minutes a game when he led all defensemen and finished third in Stanley Cup scoring with 5 goals, 16 assists for 21 points. One of his five goals was the only penalty shot goal in Stanley Cup finals history.
Again, we thank Chris for taking the time to join us and answer your questions today. We'll open it up for questions.

Q. You obviously have done this before, switching teams. Could you talk a little bit about the process of going to a new team, getting comfortable, whether there's anything specific in this case with regard to that.
CHRIS PRONGER: I think you play long enough in the league, you can adapt pretty quickly. Certainly over the course of your career in playing the game, you've got to adjust, whether it be new rules, new teammates, whatnot. Certainly this is no different.
It's a new group of players. Last year being my first year in Edmonton, you have to learn to play with new guys, new system, all the rest of that. I'm sure there will be the same growing pains this year early on, trying to adjust, adapt, certainly figure out what exactly your role is going to be on any given team.
You have to go through that almost every year trying to prepare for the season, what you're going to bring to the table.

Q. The defense, with you and Scott, where do you think it ranks among all the blue lines in the league?
CHRIS PRONGER: I got to be honest with you, I don't really look at that too much because we haven't played a game yet (laughter). Everything can always look good on paper. You got to go out and play the games, you got to go and compete and win hockey games. Until we go and do that, people can predict, project, all the rest of that. You've got to go out and perform on the ice.
I think we're going to let our play speak for itself.

Q. Some other big-name defenseman moved around this off-season. What teams do you think helped themselves the most?
CHRIS PRONGER: I think all the teams in our conference certainly did. You look around, teams weren't losing a lot of players, they were adding players. I think that's the exciting thing about our league right now. You look up and down a lot of the rosters, it's pretty impressive the amount of talent and skill on a lot of the lineups. That's going to be a big task for us and big chore. People are predicting and projecting, doing all the rest of that. As I said earlier, we've got to go out, produce, play the game as Randy wants us to, go out and execute.

Q. I've seen your comments about how happy you are going to Anaheim. Was there ever a time when all this stuff was going on and Kevin was listening to teams where you heard how interested the Leafs were? Did that tweak your interest about coming to Toronto?
CHRIS PRONGER: There was a number of teams. Certainly I heard the trade rumors. The Cavalier thing, all the rest of that. Until a deal is actually done, you don't want to actually start speculating and getting too far into it. You look at what Toronto has done in the off-season, they get McCabe, Gil, Kubina, certainly trying to strengthen their defense core, they've made some pretty bold moves.
Had it gone through, whether or not they would have been able to make those, different ones, I don't really know. Pretty tough to predict what might or might not have happen.
I certainly did hear the rumors.

Q. How difficult was it for you to hear all these rumors or have you been in the league long enough? Couple years ago, some of these rumors had you trading from St. Louis all but done during the season.
CHRIS PRONGER: Yeah, you know what, you get pretty used to these rumors. At that point you realize it's a business, you realize you see players come and go. You realize it's part of the game. This is no different to any other part of your career. I've been traded three times now.
It's one of those things you never really get used to it. It's always difficult going to a new team. You kind of get out of your comfort zone for a little while. Sometimes that's good and you can learn from it and use that to better yourself both on and off the ice.

Q. In your mind, what are the most important things to get accomplished in training camp in order for this team to be ready for the regular season and be successful?
CHRIS PRONGER: I think making sure -- having played them as many times as we did last year, knowing that work ethic they used to accomplish what they did last year, they were always a tough team to play against. Getting that edge back early on in training camp, getting accustomed to new players, new teammates, new partners, things like that, getting that chemistry, that flow back, there wasn't a whole lot of turnover from last year to this year. Obviously my trade and then a couple of free agent signings, but the bulk of the roster is pretty much the same.
I think having that chemistry, I'm skating with the guys right now, you can see it out on the ice, guys play together, there's that bond there that you can build on. Certainly I hope to just add to that.

Q. Are you a guy who likes to play a lot during the preseason or would that be more important with a new team?
CHRIS PRONGER: I'm not really partial one way or the other. In talking to Randy, I think I might play of half the games, something of that nature. It just kind of depends on how things go.
Earlier in my career I played all the games. Sometimes you play a lot of the games. Sometimes you don't. A lot of times injuries play into that. Certainly the eight-man rule, all of rest of that, home games, things like that. There's a number of different situations that can play into how many games you're going to play or not play. I'm not really too partial as to what I play and what I don't play.

Q. I know you've had a new team to get ready for. You're reflecting on how close you were, got to the top of the mountain. What has it been like to reflect on how you were to winning the big prize?
CHRIS PRONGER: It's better when I come in here and talk that these guys because we beat 'em (laughter).
You know, it's tough. It's tough to sit here and think you were one game away from being the Stanley Cup champions. It's difficult. Certainly it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. But it leaves that sense of understanding how hard it is to get there and how much you have to sacrifice and give up to get there.
It was a great run for us last year in Edmonton. Certainly one that a lot of us will never forget. Now it's here in Anaheim where we've got to do the same thing. The guys that were here understand what they did right and what they didn't do right. Certainly the run they had in the second half to not only make the playoffs but play as well as they did in the playoffs was something they can build on. There's a great group of young talent here that certainly can gain a lot of experience from that.

Q. How long were you aware during those playoffs that Edmonton would be a one-year stop for you?
CHRIS PRONGER: I didn't really dwell on it that much. I sat down with my family right after the season and had some pretty frank discussions. Certainly we laid it out on the table.

Q. Seeing you and Randy have spoken, I was wondering if you had any discussions about how you would plan to handle two elite defensemen with you and Scott and also whether Randy being a former defenseman should help in this area or hinder?
CHRIS PRONGER: Well, I told him I had to play 40 minutes now, but he didn't like that (laughter). Just kidding.
You know, we talked a little bit about it. Obviously just trying to figure out partners, who he wants to play me with, what side I like, all the rest of that. I'm pretty open to a lot of things. I'm not really set on what side I play or who I play with, all the rest of that. We'll kind of leave that to the coaching staff. They'll be able to figure out who is going to mesh, kind of play well together in different situations.
I think really it's going to be a game-by-game thing. I know in St. Louis when me and Al played together, it was always every year we came in, we're going to cut down your ice time. Every year it seemed like we played more and more.
Injuries play a big part in a lot of these things, all of rest of that. There's so many variables and different factors that play into ice time, who you're playing with, all the rest of that. It can switch from game to game, month to month, as you very well know.

Q. Do you think you'd kill crucial penalties together?
CHRIS PRONGER: I think we'll play a little bit together, certainly in penalty killing, power-play, things like that. We didn't get too far into that. Just kind of touched on a lot of different subjects over lunch, got to know each other a little bit.

Q. Question from Finland. You have some pretty intense battles with Teemu Selanne. You are now teammates. Do you think you have to have a talk and bury the axes?
CHRIS PRONGER: Maybe we'll have to go out and have some Finlandia vodka and get it all out in the open (laughter).

Q. No grudges against you, I can see that.
CHRIS PRONGER: We saw each other first day he came in for a skate. You know what, that's what the game's all about, is competing and playing at a high level, having that competitive juices flowing. Certainly he's a competitor and plays hard. The same for me.
You match up against guys, play against guys a lot, there's going to be that rivalry, that intense battle that fans and media, coaches and players around the league pick up on. It's just a by-product of playing against one another a lot. Certainly with the type of player he is, you obviously want to play him hard.
DAVID KEON: Thanks very much, Chris, for your time today.
CHRIS PRONGER: Thank you, Dave.

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