Emotions run high for Conroy
Veteran wonders if he has played his last game at the 'Dome
He's dealing with the fact that the Calgary Flames will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2003 and he is dealing with the fact that he is to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and may be playing his last minutes in a Flames jersey.
"I thought about it last night," Conroy said prior to Thursday's game against the Minnesota Wild, the Flames last home game of 2009-10.. "That's the reality of sports. That being said, if this is the last one in Calgary I'd like to go out with a bang and win. If it is my last game, which I hope it is not, it will be an emotional one for me."
The Flames didn't get the win -- losing 2-1 in a shootout. Conroy, however, did pick up an assist and get three shots on net.
"That game kind of sums up what it has been like here this year. We get a ton of chances (33 shots on net) and we can't score. it's like an exclamation point," said Conroy.
Following the game, the Flames saluted the fans a centre ice. That, too, was emotional for Conroy.
"Might be the last one," said Conroy. "I've enjoyed every minute that I have been here. You don't know right now what is going on and what changes there might be, It's been fun, though. We'll see where everything goes. It's still fun to play, that's for sure."
Of the 13 seasons he has spent in the NHL, eight have been in Calgary. He has been a captain of the team. An assistant captain. Always a leader in the dressing room. A part of the Flames magical run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004. Hampered by injuries this season, he didn't put up the numbers he would have liked. Three goals, 12 assists. But he worked hard and played a variety of roles -- from first line centre to fourth line centre with nary a complaint. His career stats read 990 games, 180 goals, 360 assists, 540 points.
Thursday night, despite the bitter taste of not going to the post season still fresh, Conroy was thinking of the Flames fans.
"We have great fans," said Conroy. "All year they have been with us, good and bad. Sometimes they booed us. They cheered. They were here and that's all we can ask."
Conroy vividly remembers the standing ovation he received when he scored his first of the season on December 30 against Los Angeles -- a tally that would stand as the game-winner.
"I can think back when I scored my first goal and the ovation they gave me," said Conroy. "That's what I love about Calgary -- the fans."
Prior to the game Thursday against Minnesota, Conroy has been nominated for the prestigious Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy by the Calgary chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA).
The annual award goes to “the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey”.
Conroy, always a fan favorite and, it would seem, always talkative was honoured by the nomination.
"You try and be a good person and you try and play hard," said Conroy. "I think longevity is one thing and I think being able to stick around play. I feel privileged to play in the NHL and I am honoured to be nominated for an award."
As the season comes to a close Conroy said the Flames aren't about to mail in points.
"It's personal pride. It's an NHL game you are playing in and you want to win. It's going out and having pride and trying to win. We are still professionals," said Conroy.
That applies to Conroy, too. A professional. Where he lands for next season, who knows. What we do know is he will remain one of the most likeable players in the game.