In game three of the Western Conference finals, with the Ducks trailing badly in the second period, Pronger was part of a vicious incident also involving a head-high hit. For his role in that hit, Pronger was suspended for one game.
In the Pronger/Holmstrom incident, a penalty and ejection was issued to Rob Niedermayer. The Pronger suspension came after further review. Same story here. No penalty was given on the ice, although his actions should have warranted ejection.
I'm glad that the League has decided to suspend players for these head-high hits, but I will say again that it isn't enough. The one game suspension isn't enough. In this specific case, the one game suspension definitely isn't enough.
I would make a case for Pronger being a predator (small p). The Holmstrom thing looked like it was actually premeditated. This hit didn't look premeditated, but it certainly wasn't accidental or circumstantial. He deliberately raised his elbow, led with it, and followed through. This looked for all the world to be a deliberate attempt to injure, and it is absolutely disgusting.
Given his previous suspension for similar actions in this same playoff season, this makes him not only a predator, but a habitual predator. This should have absolutely been a multiple game suspension.
Dean McAmmond lay unconscious for a few minutes and had to be helped off the ice. He didn't return to the game, and wasn't really "there" in the locker room. He has a history of concussions, and this puts his ability to return to the series in question.
Coincidentally (or perhaps not), it was McAmmond who had scored the go-ahead goal on a fluky play at 18:34 of the second, which would turn out to be the game winner. From behind the net, he attempted a centering pass, which glanced off Pronger's skate and into the net.
Add that to the equation, and I just can't see how the elbow was a "mistake".
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle offered the following chickenshit explanation:
"We think it was totally unintentional. The league thought different. Chris Pronger is a competitive player. Some people will say he's using his size as an excuse.
The fact of the matter is his elbows are higher than most people's elbows. It's not like he raised his elbow to deliver a blow to the head."
This is almost identical to the explanation Pronger offered after the Holmsrom incident. And it's garbage. Chris Pronger is 32 years old. He has always been bigger than most players around him. He should know by now where his elbows line up to other players' bodies.
If we're to accept this bullcrap excuse, it would give smaller players like Scott Gomez and Ray Whitney license to go around punching everyone in the balls. "I can't help it if my fists are lower than everyone else's. I thought I was hitting him in the chest."
Boo on Chris Pronger. Boo on Randy Carlyle. Boo on Colin Campbell.