During his Hall of Fame career, defenseman Chris Pronger was known for his all-out play and his crushing hits.
Now in the Florida Panthers front office, Pronger is now perhaps best known for putting an opponent into the glass in a celebrity game held in Los Angeles.
At last year’s All-Star Game, Pronger took part in the Celebrity Shootout at Staples Center.
It was in that charity event where Pronger sized up one of the biggest entertainers in the world — and ever-so-gently jammed him face-first into the glass.
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The photo of Pronger’s wide smile towering over Justin Bieber’s pained look went viral immediately.
In his job as part of the NHL’s player safety department Pronger joked that he fined himself $5 for the hit.
“You don't want anybody to get hurt out there or to do anything too crazy," Pronger told NHL.com afterward.
“We were trying to have fun and make it entertaining.”
“I gave him a little back massage with my stick, pinned him up against the boards, rubbed his face in the glass and just gave him a little welcome to the NHL,” Pronger said.
“I wouldn't even call it a hit. Had I hit him, it would have been probably a different picture because he can't weigh more than 120 pounds.”
Yes, the tale of the tape decidedly went to Pronger.
Even at 42, Pronger rolls up at 6-6 and 220 pounds.
Approximately 5-9 and 145 pounds.
“A player of his caliber, you've got to take away his time and space,” Pronger told the Post-Dispatch.
“You don't want to have anybody that has those kinds of dance moves to have any space.”
Pronger was officially named to the Florida Panthers front office on Thursday morning and will advise general manager Dale Tallon while working with former Florida captain Bryan McCabe.
Former Florida GM Mike Keenan tried to acquire Pronger from St. Louis at the 2005 NHL Draft in Ottawa — the Sidney Crosby draft held at a Westin hotel ballroom — but the Blues sent him to Edmonton instead.
In 2007, Pronger won his only Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks where he was a teammate of retired Florida forward Shawn Thornton.
As for the photo?
“You couldn't have timed it any better,” he said. “It was perfect.”