Pronger: 'I knew I'd be Public Enemy No. 1'
No matter how much time passes, even with the start of NHL training camps, Chris Pronger can't escape the cloud of questions surrounding his move from Edmonton to Anaheim.
The veteran defenseman, who helped the Oilers to within one game of the Stanley Cup last season, told The Edmonton Journal that he understands why Edmonton fans are upset, but what he can't stand is the rumors swirling about his life off the ice.
"I knew I'd be Public Enemy No. 1 ... but I'm pissed off by all the rumors and innuendo surrounding my leaving," Pronger told The Edmonton Journal. "I've heard all the nasty stuff, about all my girlfriends ... that I've got more kids than I started with. I must have six kids out there.
"It started off with I slept with so-and-so, and I'm having kids, then it moved to my wife sleeping with some of my teammates. I was supposed to be having a kid with a reporter, then she said, 'I don't know what they're talking about.' Then it went from story to story. Some people even took my rental furniture from my house and burned it."
Pronger, 31, told the newspaper that the rumors are not true and reiterated again that he was happy in Edmonton, but the decision to leave for the Anaheim Ducks was a family decision.
"The fans have every right to feel how they feel," Pronger told the newspaper. "Some understand, some don't care. Others, I'm sure, want to tell me to screw off.
"Fans are fickle, it's the nature of the beast," Pronger added. "You're an idol when you're on their team. They love to hate you, hate to love you. Now, they'll be back hating me. They always did when I was on other teams."
Pronger was traded to Anaheim Ducks in July for right wing Joffrey Lupul, defenseman Ladislav Smid and three draft picks. The 2000 NHL MVP with St. Louis, Pronger led the Oilers to the Stanley Cup finals last month. They fell just short of a championship, losing Game 7 to the Carolina Hurricanes.
After Edmonton's surprising run was over, Pronger asked the team for a trade, citing personal reasons. His wife reportedly disliked living in Edmonton.
Anaheim jumped at the opportunity, sending its first-round pick in the 2007 draft, a 2008 second-round pick and a conditional draft choice to the Oilers along with Lupul and Smid.
The conditional draft pick will be sent to Edmonton if the Ducks make the Stanley Cup finals next year. This season, Anaheim lost to the Oilers in five games in the Western Conference finals.
Pronger, 31, had 16 assists in the playoffs and scored five goals. During the 2005-06 regular season, he scored 12 goals and had 44 assists in 80 games.
"Getting traded to Edmonton was fine with me at the time," Pronger told the Journal. "At the end of the day, though, you just try to do what's best for you and your family.
"I have nothing bad to say against the city of Edmonton. I liked it there. I had a fun year playing. It's something I'll remember for the rest of my life."
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.