As pressure packed as the final week will be, a couple of veteran Calgary Flames wouldn’t have it any other way.
Living in the moment is the only option for Craig Conroy and Jamal Mayers, whose contracts expire at season’s end and know the end of their NHL careers is coming sooner than later.
“It means everything at this point,” Mayers said of making the playoffs, which is why he asked for a trade out of Toronto.
“You focus on the now.”
Asked what he’d do to make it back to the post-season, the 35-year-old winger suggested he’d do anything.
“Hopefully, I am doing it,” Mayers said. “The reason why I wanted to move on was to play in the playoffs.
“It’s been a while.”
Not quite as far back as 1999-2000, which was the last time he and Conroy were in the playoffs together as teammates with the St. Louis Blues, but Mayers hasn’t been in the post-season since the last year before the lockout in 2003-04.
At the age of 38, Conroy’s future may be even more uncertain.
“I try to enjoy every moment — come to the rink, be with the guys … and to be in such a pressure-filled thing, it’s fun,” Conroy said. “It’s nerve-racking at times — definitely, there have been some sleepless nights after the (New York) Islanders and Boston (Bruins losses), but you just come back and regroup.
“I’m enjoying playing. I’m having fun.”
How long that fun will last is up the league’s 30 GMs.
Conroy knows his time may be up in Calgary, but he’s hopeful he can continue his career here or somewhere else despite statistics that have plummeted from a 48-point season a year ago to three goals and a dozen assists in
59 games this year.
“I don’t really think about it maybe being the end,” Conroy said. “That’s the reality of it, but I don’t think about it.
I figure that’s always taken care of in the summer.
“It’s been a tough year offensively, but I feel like
I can still play in the league and contribute.”
Playing hurt or sitting out with three bouts of injuries has stifled Conroy’s production.
“A lot of injuries, but the one thing I’ve always felt is I can always bounce back,” Conroy said. “It makes me work that much harder in the summer and get back and be more focused for next year just because you’re disappointed with the way things have gone.”
Working in his favour for next year is the fact he will come cheap and is open to any role that can help a team.
“I’m not asking for seven million dollars — I’m just looking to get a contract and play and have fun and then just go from there,” Conroy said.
“Hopefully, people can look at the career and say, ‘Want him, or don’t.’ That’s all I can do.”
For now, he and Mayers are just trying to help the Flames reach the playoffs.
“We’ve won a lot of hockey games together,” Mayers added.
“Hopefully, we can be good luck charms for each other and keep it rolling and win a lot more.”