SUN Hockey Pool

Score to settle

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

Craig Conroy has a bone to pick with his former teammates.

The former Calgary fan favourite and current Los Angeles King started the Flames Hard Hat tradition upon finding an old, dust-covered and scratched-up green bucket in the Saddledome just before the euphoric 2003-04 season.

He decided it would be a perfect reward for the unsung hero of each and every win, to honour the player who wasn't lauded among the three stars but did the little things that made a difference.

And he joked he doesn't like what's transpired since his departure.

"They weren't supposed to get rid of it. Not only that, they got rid of the hard hat and I didn't even get to give it to the Hall of Fame," he said from his home in Los Angeles. "And then, they didn't replace it with one that's beaten up or something like that. If they were going to get another one, get one that's been along the river bank for a year or something like that. The new one is all flashy.

"Also, I saw Kipper wearing it after a game. He got a shutout, so he had to have been named a star. That's not what it's for.

"That doesn't make me very happy. I'll have to talk to Iggy about that and give him some grief."

Conroy's chance to make his feelings known, and more, finally comes tonight when the Flames visit the Kings down in La La Land (8:30 p.m.).

Best yet for the former Flames captain, who signed with the Kings as an unrestricted free agent, is the fact he's going into his first game against his old team on one of the biggest rolls of his career.

Conroy, the former Selke Trophy finalist, collected seven points in the last two Kings games, wins over Colorado and Dallas that have the Kings perched atop the Pacific Division standings.

"That was nice to get going," said Conroy, who is skating on a line with Pavol Demitra and Alexander Frolov. "I had a tough time before that.

"I just hope it lasts at least one more game. That and as long as I don't pass to Iggy in the slot."

Not that Flames captain Jarome Iginla wouldn't mind.

In fact, Conroy's long-time linemate and close buddy could use all the help he can get these days being mired in something of a slow start.

"I wouldn't worry about him," Conroy said. "He's one of those guys who'll score 20 goals in 21 games or something like that. He can just get so hot like no one I've seen before other than Brett Hull."

Having spent three-plus seasons with the Flames, and putting himself 35th on the all-time points list with 188, Conroy may have moved on in his career but still feels part of the Flames.

"It still feels weird to see that jersey when watching games on TV," said Conroy, who tried to catch the Flames home-opener but couldn't get it on the TV in the Kings locker-room. "To play against them will be really weird."

Easier, though, he said than when he returns to the Stampede City for the first time, which is scheduled for Dec. 21.

"It's still going to be hard in Calgary no matter what. Just to walk into the building and see all the people who work there, they were all so good to me, it will be special," he said.

"I think so fondly of my time there. The fans care so much about hockey and I have so many good memories. It was really hard to leave."

He and wife Jessie are settling into Los Angeles with their three daughters -- Taylor, 8, Sophia who's about to turn six and Sydney, who'll celebrate her first birthday today.

"Yeah, it's her birthday the day we play the Flames and Sophia turns six when we play St. Louis," Conroy said. "I've to got to give them both a special birthday present, a win each and a puck from scoring a goal."


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