THERE WAS A LONG pause on the other end of the phone.

"The year from hell is over," Chris Pronger said.

That's how Pronger described his injury-riddled season, which officially came to a close on Friday night in Boston - ending the season the same exact way it started in October, with Pronger watching from afar because of injury.

After slogging through exactly 118 games last season - including all 82 games with the Flyers, six with the gold medal-winning Canadian Olympic team in Vancouver, seven preseason games and 23 Stanley Cup playoff games - Pronger skated in just 50 games in the regular season this year, his lowest total since 2002-03.

His self-described "year from hell" started last July 27, when a seemingly benign knee surgery kept him off the ice for nearly all of training camp and the first two games of the regular season.

It may end with another surgery in the not-so-distant future, to correct a possible herniated disc in his lower back, which Pronger said he first felt in Game 7 of the first round against Buffalo. Pronger was examined by a doctor yesterday and hopes to know more in the coming days.

In between, he had surgery in December to insert a screw in his foot to promote the healing of a fracture in his metatarsal and also a March 15 hand surgery to do the same thing in his right hand.

"I started the season with a surgery and I'm going to end it, who knows, whether I get another one or not," Pronger said on a conference call with reporters. "From an injury standpoint, it's been the toughest year. You start to get back and feeling good and another one crops up."

Pronger said he is still not 100 percent healed from his hand injury that kept him out of the first five games of the first round.

"My hand is still at a stage where I need to continue to work at it to get it stronger," Pronger said. "It was to the point where I could play, but I still don't have a lot of grip strength, still don't have a full range of motion. It's still where it was."