A bizarre feud is developing between Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger and Chicago Blackhawks forward Ben Eager.
The odd part is not that they're feuding. Both players are known for mixing it up. Eager was popular during his time with the Flyers for that very reason.
What's weird is the feud is based on the fact that Pronger has taken the game pucks at the end of each of the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals, carried them off the ice and reportedly thrown them in the trash.
The Flyers have lost both games, with Game 3 set for 8 p.m. today in Philadelphia.
Pronger and Eager each drew match penalties for a confrontation after time had expired in Game 2 on Monday night in Chicago.
"He's been picking up pucks after the game, and I just told him he can keep it," Eager said.
Pronger responded, "I don't speak whatever language Eager was speaking. Apparently, it got him upset. So I guess it worked, didn't it? It's too bad. I guess little things amuse little minds."
On Tuesday, their teammates were asked several times about the incident, but none seemed to know what to make of it.
"I didn't even know he took the puck until I saw that clip (Tuesday) morning," said Chicago's Patrick Sharp, another ex-Flyer. "Doesn't matter to me. I didn't think twice about it. If he wants it, he can have it. We're thinking about hockey between the whistles and during the 60 minutes. So if he wants it, he can go grab it."
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he read about it online Tuesday.
"I think it's kind of comical," Laviolette said. "If Chris Pronger wants the puck, then he can have it, as far as I'm concerned. I don't have any problems with that. I don't know what the big deal is."
When pressed for more of a comment, Laviolette shrugged off the possibility that the Blackhawks might be more motivated by Pronger's disrespect.
"What added incentive do they have now? They're mad? They're angry? It's the playoffs," Laviolette said. "We're going to show up. We're going to compete like hell (tonight). I promise you that. I don't know what else they're going to do because we stole their puck. I think it's funny, just like you guys are laughing right now, I think it's kind of comical. Prongs wants the puck, take it."
Laviolette had said earlier that he would not comment on what was discussed in team meetings. But he did divulge one thing.
"We did not talk about who is going to steal the puck in Game 3. None of that," he said.
Flyers captain Mike Richards also had some fun with it.
"If he wants to grab the puck, let him have the puck. You can tell him not to take it, if you want," Richards said. "I don't know what his reasoning for it was. I'm not going to make wild comments about something that I don't think really has too much effect on hockey games. He probably just did because it was there, maybe. I don't know. I'm not going to make any comments about him."
The Flyers' Danny Briere liked the move.
"I don't know. He seems comfortable, seems in his element right now," Briere said. "And you know what, he's been there before, so I'm sure there's a method. He seems to be disturbing a lot of people around. And we're a team that disturbs a lot of people. I guess he fits right in."
While Pronger did not address the matter Tuesday, Eager tried to put it behind him.
"I'm not too worried about what happened last night after the game," Eager said. "You know, we're just going to leave that on the ice and worry about (today)."
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