Former Bowling Green State University player Sean Pronger played for 16 professional hockey teams in an 11-year career.
Sean Pronger’s tome began at the urging of his younger brother.
When Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger decided to create a Web site in the fall of 2008, he asked Sean, less than two years older than him, to contribute a few words to the online page.
Sean, a former Bowling Green hockey standout, had a terse answer: No.
Yet when Sean Pronger read his younger brother’s blog entry about the supposed spoils of being an NHL superstar, he had to answer.
RELATED CONTENT: Pronger's blog entry.
“It was kind of funny,” Sean Pronger recalled. “It was something to the effect of, ‘I can’t wait to get to training camp, to see the guys, to play some golf’ … It was the complete opposite of what I went through, where you’re fighting, scraping, and clawing for the next day of your career, and you’re competing against other guys to make the roster of a team.”
Sean Pronger’s original blog post became the genesis for his book “Journeyman,” released late last year by Penguin Books Canada.
The title is in homage not only to a term given to those hockey players who forge a career as a role player yet never find a long-term home, but to a certain quest that Pronger took through the course of his 11-year, 16-team career as a forward in professional hockey after he graduated from Bowling Green in 1994.
“They probably work harder than anyone else and they may even enjoy it more than anyone else, because every shift means something to them,” Chris Pronger wrote in a foreword of the book. “They also know how lucky they are to be where they are.”
Unlike his younger brother, who played major-junior hockey in Canada before going on to have a prolific NHL career, Sean Pronger reached his goal of playing college hockey and earned a degree in business from Bowling Green. But he didn’t immediately step into NHL.
Instead, he was given his release by the Vancouver Canucks — the team who drafted him in 1991 after his freshman year at Bowling Green — and began his career with Knoxville of the ECHL during the NHL lockout in 1994.
Pronger now lives in Southern California, has a career in financial planning and investment and owns the clothing company JRNYMN. In the fall of 1998, after the Pittsburgh Penguins demoted him to its minor-league team, he realized that yes, in fact, he was a “journeyman.”
Still, his career had its moments, including a season with Wayne Gretzky and the New York Rangers, and playing for three seasons with the IHL’s Manitoba Moose — less than a four-hour drive from where Pronger grew up in Dryden, Ontario.
Several testimonials are printed on the back cover of Pronger’s book, including one from a left wing with the Rangers who began his career with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2002 as Pronger began his last full NHL season.
“Sean was one of the first guys to invite me into his home for dinner, when I was a rookie just trying to get adjusted to NHL life,” Rick Nash wrote. “Funny, I never saw him much after that first year. He’s not dead, is he?”
Pronger insists his book wasn’t an attention grab. Nor was it a ploy to convince others that yes, he’s still alive and well.
“Honestly, I’d like for people who read it just to think that there are guys out there who know that nothing is easy,” Pronger said. “The underlying message is that if you believe in yourself, if you have a passion and if you keep showing up, then something is going to happen. Keep plowing away at it, and good things will happen. And my fellow journeymen? There’s something unique about it and there are others like them out there.”
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: email@example.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.