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Conroy to take some time

Veteran forward to decide his next career move over all-star break

Wednesday, 26.01.2011 / 7:08 PM / News
By Mike Board  - CF.com Digital Content Director
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Conroy to take some time

CRAIG CONROY

Born:
Potsdam, NY, Sept. 4, 1971
Ht: 6'1" Wt: 188 lbs Shoots: Right
Drafted:
Mtl, sixth round (123rd overall) in 1990
Acquired:
From Los Angeles in exchange for centre Jamie Lundmark and two future draft choices on January 29, 2007
First Game:
02/15/1995 @ Hartford
First Goal:
02/16/1995 @NYR (Richter)
Video:
  Craig Conroy highlights
  Feaster on Conroy's status
  1,000 games retrospective

Notable:
He has dressed for four NHL teams over his career: Montreal
(13), St. Louis (359), Los Angeles (130) and Calgary (497)...His first playoff goal came in 1998 with the St. Louis Blues where he scored the series clinching goal in a first round sweep over the Los Angeles Kings. Conroy represented the United States at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, scoring a goal and adding an assist in his first Olympic game...
Conroy will be only the 8th player to register his 1000th game as a member of the Calgary Flames and will have played 498 games in a Flames uniform
Conroy joins Lanny McDonald, Dave Lowry, Craig Berube, Martin Gelinas, Owen Nolan, Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow.

There comes a time in every athlete's career when they reach their peak. They have done everything they can. Age has taken something off the skill set. The opportunities to play become slimmer.

Such is the case with Craig Conroy, perhaps one of the most-liked, most outgoing, friendly players to ever don a Calgary Flames uniform.

On Wednesday morning the 39-year-old Conroy and is 1009 National Hockey League games cleared waivers.

Jay Feaster, the Flames acting general manager, perhaps put it best.

"It's a tough day," said Feaster.

A tough day for Conroy, a tough day for his family, a tough day for his friends and teammates in the dressing room and throughout the league. A tough day even, for those dreaded media, writers and broadcasters alike, who Conroy always had time for -- during the good times and the bad times.

It is time, now, for the very public Conroy, a former captain of the Flames, to have some privacy, talk with his family and friends and decide what to do next. He can report to the Flames top affiliate in Abbotsford and play a leadership and mentorship role for the organization's younger players. He could bide his time there and, if there were injuries, perhaps he would make his way back to Calgary. The same thing happened to current Flames assistant coachHe could hang up the skates and move on to a new phase in his life. Conroy certainly has options. He would be a welcome addition as a commentator in the media. He would be a welcome addition to the Flames hockey operations group, if offered.

Conroy will take the upcoming all-star break to make a decision on his future. Conroy will speak publicly Thursday about what has transpired this week but, contrary to speculation, he will not be announcing his retirement.

The Flames contacted the 29 other NHL teams to gauge interest around the league before placing Conroy on the wire on Tuesday. Feaster and Conroy met Monday to discuss Conroy being placed on waivers. They met again Wednesday, along with team president Ken King, following Conroy clearing waivers. Feaster said Conroy understands the decision, even if it hurts.

The immediate option provided by the Flames is a role in Abbotsford.

"Certainly that is not what he wanted to hear," said Feaster. "I would have been disappointed if it had been what he wanted to do. We would be very happy if he wanted to go to Abbotsford. I think he would be very good for our young players there and he could certainly contribute. But when you are talking about a player who has played over 1,000 games, I certainly respect the fact that that is a tough sell."

Which is why Conroy will take some time to make a decision.

"What I said to Craig was that he should take the time over the next week to talk with his family and figure out what he wants to do, look at the options as he understands them as we have discussed with him, and come back next week and let us know what he wants to do," said Feaster.

Conroy has essentially become the Flames 14th forward and, according to Feaster, a bit of a dead spot on the roster. He was not going to play unless two forwards were hurt (the Flames would play David Moss at center ahead of him). The Flames wanted to clear the 23rd spot on the roster for a younger player.

"We're in a situation where we have to start bringing up some of our young players. Not because I think there is anybody in Abbotsford that is ready to play the balance of the season with us and help us win," said Feaster. "But I think we have to start rewarding guys there that have had good seasons. Guys that have done what we have asked them to do in Abbotsford and who I believe, on a limited basis -- a couple of games at a time -- are guys who can come up and give us a shot of energy and enthusiasm."

Conroy has played 18 games in the NHL this season, including the 1,000th game of his career.

However, he had been a healthy scratch in 27 of the Flames last 28 games.

"Connie was in a tough situation," admitted Calgary head coach Brent Sutter. "We have some young guys in the minors that are playing very, very well. We have to reward them for their efforts down there. Craig has been an unbelievable professional about this, coming to the rink every day and practicing hard. He has done everything a coach could have asked for. It's tough to get him into the line-up, that is the bottom line."

Feaster has been through this before -- in Tampa Bay when then captain Dave Andreychuk came to the end of his career shortly after the Lightning had won the Stanley Cup. "I don't enjoy this," said Feaster. "It is one of the worst parts of the job. But there are tough decisions that have to be made as the acting manager of the organization. The move that I made I felt was in the best interest of the organization."

Team captain and friend Jarome Iginla said he hoped that this didn't mean "retirement" for Conroy and will certainly be one of the people Conroy speaks with before making any decision.

"He's been a big part of the team and the dressing room for a long time. It's something you deal with as a team. It's part of the game but it is one of the parts that isn't easy," said Iginla.

"If he decides that he is done with his playing career, I would love to have a discussion with him about a role in the organization because I think he would be a tremendous resource...in any number of areas. If that is the case, in my plans going forward, he is a guy I would want to talk with," said Feaster.

The decision has yet to be made.

But, early next week, Conroy will have to decide what to do about a playing career. With 1,000 games and 542 points it is a career to be proud of.

"We will, as an organization, certainly do everything we can to treat Craig with the dignity and the respect he deserves," said Feaster.

For such a classy guy as Conroy, you would expect nothing less.