Conroy has faith

RANDY SPORTAK, Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:45 PM ET

BOSTON — Craig Conroy has seen teams give up when the task is daunting.

He was part of one in the minors when it happened — in the championship final round, if you can believe it.

“We were in the Calder Cup finals, down three games, and I saw guys pack up their apartments the day before. It was awful — worst thing I’ve ever seen,” Conroy recalled after Friday’s Calgary Flames’ practice. “I thought, ‘Let’s win one and see. It’s a best-of-seven, not a best-of-five.’ I was very disappointed. The guys were gone the next day.”

He was part of a Los Angeles Kings team in 2006 which he believes collectively pulled up stakes before being officially eliminated from NHL playoff contention.

Therefore, the veteran Flames centre is certain he knows the signs and doesn’t see anything today but a dressing room full of teammates he believes will battle to the bitter end.

“You see guys playing with injuries here. In L.A., we had guys sitting out,” Conroy said. “Those are things you look at, and there’s a difference. Guys are still positive, talking positive. I can’t remember exactly what was happening in Los Angeles, but it wasn’t a good feeling.

“We have a much better team here. That’s what I have to go on and believe in. We’re better here, and if there’s a team that can do it, we can.”

The Flames sit in ninth place with eight regular season games remaining. They need a winning streak to have a chance, starting with Saturday afternoon’s tilt in Boston. Plus, they likely need help.

It’s not impossible for them to somehow make the playoffs, but it is improbable.

“Mathematically, we win our games, there’s a chance, but we have to win our games,” Conroy said. “Who cares about what happens tonight? We have to win our games. There’s still hope. There still is. We just can’t afford to lose any more. We have hope until the bitter end. I believe we can do it.”

Among the myriad keys to a miracle comeback would be reloading after the disappointment of Thursday’s disappointing 3-2 defeat to the New York Islanders.

Disappointing not just because it was at the hands of a team below the Flames in the league standings but also because it has put their playoff chances on life support.

“We can’t dwell on something that didn’t go our way or on things that didn’t work out how we wanted. (If we do that,) it’ll affect us the next time,” said Flames head coach Brent Sutter. “We have to re-energize, get back to work and get back to enjoying on what we do.”

Sutter pointed out the sun came up Friday, which caused gathered media to remind him it was overcast and even snowing at daybreak.

“Hey it’s out there. There’s just a blanket. Take the blanket off,” Sutter shot back with a smile.

Still, all the belief in the world won’t do the Flames any good if they don’t start performing up to snuff, which means working and executing.

“Right now, good isn’t going to be good enough. You’ve got to be excellent, and that’s got to be our motto from here on in,” Sutter said. “The solution is go out and play to our potential and do what we can do.”

Conroy, who you think some days could have taught The Power of Positive Thinking author Norman Vincent Peale how to see the bright side of life, knows his team is on the precipice and is well aware their eulogies are being written.

“I don’t blame them, as long as none of us in the room are like that. If they are, they shouldn’t be playing hockey. You have to go in with a good attitude and believe in yourself. I’ve seen teams that have given up, and this team hasn’t given up.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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