Conroy Masterton nominee

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:16 PM ET

There are several memorable moments in Craig Conroy’s career.

His first NHL game, Feb. 15, 1995 at Hartford.

His first NHL goal, a day later at the New York Rangers.

Numerous outings from the 2004 playoff run.

Among all those will always be his first goal this season.

It wasn’t a highlight-reel tally, in fact the goal itself isn’t the memory.

It was the reaction from the soldout Saddledome crowd. All the fans gave him a standing ovation for ending a 36-game scoring drought.

“That’s one thing I’ll always remember and will always appreciate. Those are the little moments in life,” he said of the Dec. 30 tally, which served as the winner against Los Angeles. “Hey, nobody else will remember that, but I’ll remember that.”

Conroy’s well-documented outgoing personality is only part of the package.

Along the way, he’s always displayed perseverance, dedication and sportsmanship, and it’s those attributes which earned the Flames veteran nomination for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, as selected by the Calgary chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

“You guys are being nice and giving me a chance to win something,” he said with a smile. “After a disappointing year, it means a lot to me. Any time you can get to play in the NHL and be up for an award — I probably won’t win it and didn’t win it last year — it’s an honour.

“When I look back on my career, I’ll look back and say, ‘Hey, I was up for it twice.’ ”

Also considered for the nomination were defenceman Cory Sarich and goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.

It has been a difficult season for Conroy.

Injuries — first a wrist, then a knee and finally a broken bone in his foot — limited his effectiveness.

Thanks, in part, to that aforementioned scoring drought, he entered Thursday night’s clash with the Minnesota Wild with just three goals and 15 points in 61 games.

It all pales in comparison to failing to make the playoffs.

To top it off, Conroy’s future is up in the air.

The game against the Wild could very well be his last in Calgary as a Flame.

Saturday night’s season finale in Vancouver could be his last game in the NHL, period. After all, he’ll be 39 before training camps open for next season, and coming off an injury-filled and offensively limited season could make it tough to find another contract.

Still, being one of the most upbeat people you’ll ever meet, Conroy doesn’t want to call it a career.

“I feel like I have more to offer and more to give,” said Conroy, who collected 48 points last season. “To go from 50 points to 15, it’s rock-bottom for me, maybe the worst year I’ve had. That will make me train hard and prove to everybody I still have something in the tank. I still think I can get 30-35 points in this league.

“Hopefully it’s in Calgary. If it’s not, hopefully there’s another team out there that needs me.

“I can accept whatever the role is. It’s not about me playing with Jarome (Iginla). It doesn’t bother me where I play, it bothers me where the season went.

“We’ll see July 1. If it takes all summer, it takes all summer. I’ll hang on to hope.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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