Weighing pros and Cons

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

Craig Conroy finally has some certainty to his hockey career plans.

Much-needed surgery on his right knee will take place next week. The Calgary Flames centre will have one more consultation with a doctor Friday, then have arthroscopic surgery on a torn meniscus the middle of next week.

"Then I'll be back good as new, I hope," Conroy said yesterday.

That off-ice aspect of his life has been brought into focus, but Conroy isn't so sure what his on-ice future will bring.

The pending unrestricted free agent, who'll turn 37 before training camp begins in September, has to bide his time waiting to find out whether he fits into the Flames' future plans.

A new contract for top-line centre Daymond Langkow is expected to come to fruition soon, and the club expects Matthew Lombardi to ascend into a second-line position for the coming season.

Where that leaves Conroy remains to be seen.

Conroy, content with the fact he'll have to take a cut in pay from the US$2.85 million salary he received this past season and a reduced role to remain in Calgary, just has to sit and wait.

"They have to figure out what they want to do and make their decisions and let me know," he said.

"I wish I knew exactly what was going to happen."

Throughout the season, Conroy said he wanted to remain with the Flames once his deal was done. He reiterated it when the players went their separate ways after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the San Jose Sharks.

"I left Calgary once. I don't really want to leave Calgary again. Calgary seems like home," he said at the time.

Conroy left Calgary after the 2003-04 NHL season, when he signed a four-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings. He returned via trade in the 2006-07 season.

One aspect keeping Conroy upbeat about his chances to remain with the Flames is how much he was leaned on by head coach Mike Keenan in the playoffs. He averaged nearly 17 minutes of ice time and was relied upon heavily to kill penalties.

"As much as we got to play against Joe Thornton, and I know he got some points, but I don't feel he dominated by any means," Conroy said. "For the most part, I think we did a pretty good job. I wish we would have put up the numbers, too."

He managed two assists in those seven playoff contests.

And that was while playing through the knee injury as well as a torn oblique muscle suffered in the final week of the regular season.

The knee problems began on the club's six-game road trip in December, suffered while colliding with Tampa Bay Lighting star Vincent Lecavalier. He played through it but had to be checked out with a month remaining in the season. The diagnosis was he could try to play through it or have minor surgery and miss two to four weeks.

With four games remaining in the regular season, Conroy suffered a torn oblique muscle while taking a faceoff.

Through it all, he still managed 12 goals and 34 points in 79 contests.

"I feel I had an average year and could be better. I figure I could have had 20 goals, but I was always pressing," he said.

With those problems taken care of, he feels he can contribute, even in a reduced role.

"I think I can come back and be effective," he said.

"I feel I've got a lot of hockey left in me, and when I'm healed up, I'll be ready."

Ice chips

The NHL announced the order for this year's entry draft, and the Flames have the No. 17 slot. The Lightning has the No. 1 spot, followed by the Kings and Atlanta Thrashers. The draft is June 20-21 in Ottawa.


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