On Craig Conroy


DALLAS - NOVEMBER 04:  Center Craig Conroy #24 of the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center on November 4, 2009 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Last season, Kent presented his thoughts about the Flames’ elder statesman. Today, as Connie prepares to play in his 1000th game, I wanted to offer a few words about Calgary’s voluble vet.

It’s easy to admire the heights of skill and talent that a Crosby or an Ovechkin display on a sheet of ice, and those types of players are correctly acknowledged for their greatness, but the league isn’t made of very many of those men.

It is, for the majority of players, a workaday environment of sorts, and for that majority, what often distinguishes them from the pack is a mix of smarts and consistent application of their ability. That, to me, is what has gotten Craig Conroy to the point we’re at today.

The most astonishing thing might well be how incredibly unlikely it is that this milestone could ever be attained. Craig Conroy was a 6th round draft choice that played exactly 13 games in the NHL before the age of 25 and had to switch organizations at that age before his career got off the ground.

The Habs sent him away to St. Louis in the fall of 1996 as a throw-in piece of a deal whose marquee names were Shayne Corson and Pierre Turgeon. I suspect as that club went fallow in the late ’90s, Montreal may well have wished that they’d kept him around.

As time has passed, the management in St. Louis and Los Angeles might have shared that twinge of regret after moving him to the Flames, because there are many players that might have enjoyed higher career arcs for a time along the way, but not many have offered the sort of reliable, sensible, professional approach that 24 has graced us with over the last decade and and a half.


CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 10: TJ Brodie  of the Calgary Flames congratulates teammate Craig Conroy on his game winning goal against the Los Angeles Kings in third period NHL action on October 10, 2010 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Flames won 3 - 1. (Photo by Mike Ridewood/Getty Images)

Flames’ fans have benefited from seeing Conroy at his best, as he’s been the rare player that will finish his career being significantly more productive in his thirties than in his twenties. In terms of raw scoring, that’s not normal, and the fact that he’s been very good at all the little things that help teams win has made him a valuable contributor to the improvement of the club from the dark days at the start of the millennium.

 There was some muted grumbling this past summer when he was re-signed at the league minimum, with the common complaints of too old and no hands being at the forefront. What I think those people have missed is that Craig Conroy gets it. He appears to understand that a successful season for the Flames might not necessarily have him as a central figure, but as a supporting player, and if he’s unhappy about that fact, he’s done a lousy job of communicating it.

That willingness to sublimate his ego in order to make things work doesn’t happen with every player, and that’s a quality any organization would value in an employee. I have no doubt that if the time came where the club felt they could do better, he’d move on without complaint, a happy warrior to the end.


EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 3:  Craig Conroy #24 of the Calgary Flames skates off the ice before a game between the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers in an NHL game on October 3, 2009 at Rexall Arena in Edmonton, Canada. The Calgary Flames defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. (Photo by Jimmy Jeong/Getty Images)

He’s not done yet, though, and I don’t want this to sound like it’s a eulogy, because it isn’t. Craig Conroy made the team out of camp far and square, and he can still skate and think at a NHL level. He’s not really a top-sixer for a good team anymore, but as a spot guy and PKer, he has a place on this team on the merits.

He certainly still has enough game to help, and I suspect if you asked his teammates, they would likely admit that they’re glad he’s along for the ride, and not just because he’s a friendly dude who saves a few of them from being interviewed.

So tonight, we can celebrate a rare achievement for a man that’s offered plenty to the club and to his community. Craig Conroy will receive the accolades of the faithful tonight, and he’ll deserve every last one of them.

Congratulations Sir, and thanks from all of us.

  • Gange

    It’s great to see Connie hit this milestone wearing the flaming C. Can’t wait for the game tonight.

    He’s not the most skilled player but is really positive for this organization. When his playing days are done I’d sure like to see him remain in YYC.

    Good Times; Good times!

  • I love Conroy, the guy plays hard all the time. Even last season when he was fed the toughest minutes and could hardly buy a point, he still left it all on the ice. A credit to his conditioning trainer as well.

    Is it possible they healthy scratched Connie for the first game of the season just so they could schedule this event for a Thursday night, TSN, home game? It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that our roster is partly determined by things other than hockey considerations.

  • everton fc

    Good piece. Well done.

    Conroy is a class act. Also felt the same about Lowry. Who would have though either of these guys would have played so long.

    Hopefully Connie score this evening. One of the best guys in hockey. A true role model for fans and kids, alike.

  • Subversive

    Nice article, however I’d love it if the writers on this blog did a little more discussion of topics before they post. 1000th game or not, do we really need two posts about Craig Conroy?

    It seems to happen a lot, two (or three!) game day posts is just silly. Take turns, or get together and write them as a group.

    Also, a proper game thread like what used to happen over at M&G before Kent ruined it by leaving would be nice, so everyone is commenting in the same thread.

    Bellyaching over, keep up the good work everyone! 🙂

    • The current format is:

      1.) Gameday preview, which looks at the upcoming opponent.

      2.) FGD, in which Steinberg relates issues about line-ups and such for both clubs.

      3.) Gamethread, usually a snarky piece by Ryan and a place to comment during the contest.

      Conroy got his own piece today because he deserves it. Steinberg mentioned Conroy because it’s the dominant narrative.

      I don’t think we’ll be changing any time soon. I like more content rather than less and each writer usually brings something else to the table in each of the pieces mentioned.

    • Yeah, it’s actually pretty simple how we do things.

      One post looks at the opponent and one is a preview of both games with lineups and gameday information from morning skate.

      Then we have a gameday thread, to generate discussion during the game.

      An extra one on Craig Conroy today which is well written and thought out…I’ll take that too.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    I was one who said that Connie would be allowed to play his 9 games this season, before retiring to the TSN booth.

    It certainly appears that I was wrong, and I am glad that I was.

    As for content, I pick and choose which posts to read so the more the merrier. I don’t read them all, but have figured out which I enjoy and read those. Easy peasy.

    Having said that, I would greatly appreciate it if all the contributors here would move, full time, back to M&G. That website is infinitely better than this one but the content now does things to goats that ought not to be mentioned.

    • Sorry, but we won’t ever be moving back to M&G. It was a nice platform* but…well let’s just say that’s where SBN puts almost all of it’s resources.

      As for the writers there, I enjoy everyone who contributes at M&G currently. Their only failing is they aren’t all that prolific.

      *(ironically, when I moved from my private blogspot platform to SBN, I got a lot of complaints about M&G being cluttered and overly complicated.)

  • We should just play Conroy with Iggy tonight.

    I would consider it a promotion of Connie, Lawrence would consider it a demotion of Iggy, and the team would probably be better off either way.

    Win/win/win 😀

  • I certainly don’t mind feedback – we’ll continue to try to tweak and improve things. Subversive has been around for years too, so I know he’s not a random crank.

    That said, it’s sometimes impossible to be all things to all people, so I have to go with that I like and think works over other considerations when it comes right down to it.

    That said, comments and criticisms (assuming they’re honest ones) are welcome either in the comments here or via email.