Let me set the scene for you. Opening weekend at the all-new gigantic Main Event family entertainment venue in Chesterfield, and you’ve chosen laser tag for your first foray. Halfway through the session, you peek into a corner and suddenly meet the eyes of former St. Louis Blues defenseman Chris Pronger. While a little pee may come out of the body afterwards, a story will arise from fear.
16 years after donning the Blue Note jersey for the last time, Pronger remains connected to the hometown that helped him become a star. Arguably the greatest blue line defender to ever play in St. Louis, Pronger is helping the Main Event kick off the new facility – the first of its kind at Chesterfield – this week. I had the chance to speak with him about the possibility of sticking around, if he’s still competitive off the ice, if other cities are treating old players like Lou does, and his thoughts on the youngster. Newly extended defender Colton Parayko.
They say you shouldn’t be working on vacation, but I’m making exceptions for the Hall of Fame. Scroll for the full conversation back and forth.
STL Game Time: This new site looks like a game changer for St. Louis County.
Prong: It offers many functions for children and adults. You see what Top Golf has out there. This adds another element: laser tag, bowling, arcade games, air hockey and billiards. This will provide more options for the people of Chesterfield and the people who drive there, while also helping neighborhood restaurants.
STL Game Time: When it comes to something like air hockey, are you still as competitive as when you were cleaning the crease on the Blue Note back then?
Pronger: No. There is nothing I do that is not competitive (he chuckles loudly). There are no freebies when it comes to games: be it UNO, bowling, whatever you want. Laser tag. Everyone is a fair game. No matter the game, you play to win.
STL Game Time: If you were to take a former Blues player to this Main Event complex, and go there all day and night, who would you take with you?
Pronger: I would take Bobby Gassoff, especially in laser tag. If you want it to be fun, I’ll bring my old backup goalie with me in Jamie McLennon, and let him free up some space for me.
STL Game Time: How important is it to you to stay connected to the St. Louis community?
Pronger: It’s a bit both ways. Getting married to a city girl is obviously a draw and brings you back. But it’s the people and the city. They welcome you here with open arms, making you a member of the community. People genuinely care about you and take the time and energy to get to know you. Suddenly, he takes on another role.
STL Game Time: Is it like that elsewhere, in the country or in the world?
Pronger: No, it’s rare. That’s what’s great about this organization and this city with alumni and current players. I am loved in this city and welcomed with open arms. When you look around the league, there are very few that compete with what we’ve been able to do here with the alumni. There are over 65 boys who returned to St. Louis and lived here full time. That says a lot about the city and the organization.
STL Game Time: Is there something in the game that you are missing?
Pronger: You know what man, I’m ready (with a guaranteed laugh). I went there and did this. I’m pretty old, almost 47, and I’ve had my day. I like to see young people in today’s game prevail and continue to make it grow. Just like the players before me and immediately after me, they are creating new legacies and traditions for the sport.
STL Game Time: A player who reminds me of you is Colton Parayko. What would you say he needs to do to take his game to the next level?
Pronger: I think people should fire this poor kid. Everyone wants to classify him as who they want him to be, instead of who he is. It is old enough now that it is difficult to change the spots on a leopard. You have to let him be who he is. He’s playing with a little edge, and people have to allow him to develop in his own way and play the way he can.
I grew up playing like I’ve been doing all my life. It’s not just something where I flipped the switch … that’s how I’ve been playing since I was 5 years old. It was forced on me to play with fire and aggression, and that’s the only way I know how to play. It’s really something where people need to appreciate what they have and who he is, and how he plays the game. Stop trying to get him to do things that he isn’t capable of. to do.
If there’s one player I would listen to about Parayko, it’s Pronger. He knows the game and the position, as well as what it takes to win in this city, better than anyone.
Now, if you had to pick someone to be on your laser tag team, I think the obvious choice is # 44.
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