Top 50 Flames of All Time: #19 Craig Conroy
Photo credit:Graphic by Mike Gould
By Ryan Pike1 year ago
It’s odd the things that cause a team to really get rolling. The Calgary Flames had a lot of good pieces in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but you could make a strong argument that the arrival of two-way centre Craig Conroy from St. Louis in 2001 was the ingredient that caused the group to really start clicking.
A really important Flames figure both on and off the ice, Conroy is #19 on our countdown.
Player, 2001-04 and 2007-11; Special Assistant to the General Manager, 2011-14; Assistant General Manager, 2014-present
A product of upstate New York, Conroy was drafted out of high school by the Montreal Canadiens and played his college hockey at Clarkson University. He went pro in 1994 and bounced between the Canadiens and their AHL team, not quite getting a toehold at the NHL level.
He was traded to St. Louis in October 1996 in a deal that sent Shayne Corson to the Habs and Pierre Turgeon to the Blues. Conroy found a niche as a reliable two-way forward with the Blues, becoming an NHL regular right away and spending parts of five seasons with the Blues. He received Selke votes in three of his four full seasons in St. Louis.
Conroy became a Flame at the trade deadline in 2001, getting swapped to Calgary with a seventh-rounder in exchange for Cory Stillman. Conroy was immediately placed on a line with Jarome Iginla and – after a brief transition period where Conroy was instructed to stop dumping the puck in while playing with Iginla – the duo developed a lot of chemistry. (Iginla, Conroy and left-winger Dean McAmmond were quietly one of the best trios in the league, and became even better when McAmmond was replaced by Martin Gelinas.)
Conroy’s offensive peak was in 2001-02, where he had 27 goals and 75 points and finished as the runner-up for the Selke, but he was a hugely important player for the team during much of his two stints with the club. He served as both an alternate captain and full captain, relinquishing the C to Iginla in 2003 in a move that preceded the Flames’ eventual run to the Stanley Cup.
Conroy left the Flames as a free agent in 2004, but after a season and change with Los Angeles he was traded back to Calgary. He gradually slid down the lineup and he adjusted to a bottom six role before retiring midway through the 2010-11 season.
Post-retirement, Conroy went right into a role in the hockey operations department. Initially a special assistant to then-general manager Jay Feaster, Conroy stuck around through the transition to Brad Treliving and became an assistant GM in 2014, a role he’s in today. He’s relied on for a lot of different roles, notably both pro and amateur scouting – he was the person the Flames sent to get Johnny Gaudreau signed in 2014 – and he remains visible in the local hockey community.
Equal parts strong on the ice and influential off of it, Conroy was a big, big part of the Flames’ success in their 2000s resurgence and their more recent growth into a strong team.
Top 50 Flames of All Time
Honourable mentions | #50 Brad Treliving | #49 Sonia Scurfield | #48 Curtis Glencross | #47 Colin Patterson | #46 Jiri Hudler | #45 Jim Peplinski | #44 Jim “Bearcat” Murray | #43 Nelson Skalbania | #42 Dion Phaneuf | #41 Reggie Lemelin | #40 Joel Otto | #39 Dan Bouchard | #38 Paul Reinhart | #37 Tom Lysiak | #36 Eric Vail | #35 Tim Hunter | #34 Al Coates | #33 Harvey the Hound | #32 Martin Gelinas | #31 Sergei Makarov | #30 Elias Lindholm | #29 Mikael Backlund | #28 Häkan Loob | #27 Matthew Tkachuk | #26 Doug Gilmour | #25 Jacob Markström | #24 Joe Mullen | #23 Robyn Regehr | #22 Gary Roberts | #21 Doug Risebrough | #20 Al MacNeil
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