As we speculated before, Calgary Flames veteran Craig Conroy made his retirement official today with a press conference. Don’t worry about him finding a job in a tough economy though; Conroy and the Flames also announced that he would serve as a “special assistant” to GM Jay Feaster.
Conroy played 16 seasons and more than 1,000 games in the NHL despite going in the sixth round (123rd overall) in the 1990 draft. He scored 182 goals and 360 assists for 542 points in his NHL career.
The two-way center was known for his frankness and openness with the hockey media, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him on TV in the future. If being Feaster’s “special assistant” isn’t too time consuming, that is.
After clearing waivers today, Flames forward and 16-year NHL veteran Craig Conroy is reportedly set to announce his retirement from the NHL tomorrow. According to the Toronto Sun, Conroy is going to speak with his family about whether he should accept a demotion to AHL Abbotsford to keep playing hockey or just hang up his skates and call it a career.
Conroy’s been a healthy scratch for Calgary since the middle of December as he hasn’t played since December 20th. For Conroy, his return to the Flames lineup this season was a surprise as he started off the season on a minor-league tryout and won his way back to the NHL with help from injuries to numerous Flames centers.
Conroy, a native of Potsdam, NY and a graduate from Clarkson University has had a strong career playing in 1,009 games totaling 182 goals and 360 assists over those 16 seasons as a member of the Flames, Kings, Blues, and Canadiens. He blossomed into a depth set-up man as a member of the Flames in the early part of the 2000s and was a strong performer on their Stanley Cup finalist team in 2003-2004.
Always likable and always a hit with the press, Conroy will be remembered as one of the good guys in the game that did well to stick around and be a solid contributor. If this is it for Conroy, fans in Calgary will be sad to see him go as he was always the loyal soldier for the Flames even in his final couple seasons and was instrumental in helping their younger players find their way on the NHL level.
When I look back at the Calgary Flames team that came within one win of a Stanley Cup in 2004, there are a lot of players who come to mind. Obviously, there are the two most important players: Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff. Beyond that there’s the hockey world’s introduction to Mike Commodore’s ginger ‘fro and the timely goal scoring of Martin Gelinas.
Yet Craig Conroy might have been the most concise embodiment of that sand-paper-with-a-dash-of-skill Flames team. You won’t find many people in the hockey world without at least a passing admiration for the versatile pivot, but it sounds like he might be near his final days in the NHL.
Eric Duhatschek of the Globe & Mail reports that Flames GM Jay Feaster gave Conroy to unsavory options to consider over the all-star break: the team can demote him to the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat or the forward could instead opt for retirement. Duhatschek reports that Feaster shopped the center around the league, but no one opted to trade for the cheap veteran.
If this is it for Conroy, he has nothing to be ashamed of. The 123rd pick of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft managed to play 1,009 regular season games and 81 playoff contests over his 16-season NHL career. He’s probably going through some tough times right now, but Duhatschek also writes that he might have a future in broadcasting.
Conroy should be fine if he shows the same drive in his post-NHL career as he did in the 16 scrappy seasons he spent with Calgary, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Montreal.