When the Philadelphia Flyers traded for All Star defenseman Chris Pronger back in June, few within the organization were willing to speak to the true reason behind the move.

“We’re not trying to send any messages here,” general manager Paul Holmgren replied to a question mentioning Sidney Crosby by name. “Pittsburgh is the Stanley Cup champions and that’s a heck of an accomplishment.”

But everyone, including Pronger himself, knew that Holmgren and his executive staff were seeking ways to shut down Pittsburgh’s dynamic duo of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin after falling victim to them the previous two years in the playoffs.

On July 5, Pronger was asked to shed some light on what Crosby, Malkin and other superstars in the Atlantic Division can expect.

“I think you know the answer to that question,” he responded, adding that he wasn’t planning to “premeditate anything” for fear of NHL punishment.

Clearly, the idea was not just to shut down his opponents — particularly Crosby, who has been a Flyer killer since his arrival in the NHL — but to hurt them.

Two days later he inked a seven year contract that will expire when he’s 42.

Now, nearly six full months later, I’m still waiting to notice Pronger on the ice in a game against the Penguins, let alone for him make a difference.

In the first matchup between the cross-state rivals, Pronger had an assist and 10 penalty minutes and earned a plus-one rating. Last night, he skated to a minus-two rating. No points, no penalty minutes.

And I’ll be honest, I noticed Ryan Parent more than I noticed Pronger and I rarely saw Pronger on the ice against Crosby.

Is this a sign of coaching staff incompetence or is this a sign of coaching staff intelligence?

The reality is, Pronger no longer is the feared defender he once was, and the Flyers, in the midst of a downward spiral, sacrificed a 25-goal scorer, a budding young defenseman, and two first round draft picks to get a regressing, once-significant defender…all in the sake of “scaring” Crosby and the Penguins.

Looks like that has worked well. To date, the Penguins are 2-0-0 in games against the Flyers, with Malkin earning four points and Crosby earning three.

And just think, the Flyers have seven more years of Pronger, and with each passing loss, the Flyers grow increasingly likely to earn a high draft pick, which they don’t hold the rights to.

Looks like, at least in the early stages, this plan has backfired.

That’s what happens when a team values pugilism over skill.