Conroy has reason to smile

Calgary Flames' Ales Kotalik celebrates a goal with teammate Craig Conroy. (REUTERS/Liam Richards)

Calgary Flames' Ales Kotalik celebrates a goal with teammate Craig Conroy. (REUTERS/Liam Richards)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:40 PM ET

Signing autographs at a community function reminded Craig Conroy how fortunate he is.

“The fans were so nice,” Conroy said of an appearance he made Tuesday night.

“They all said positive stuff. It was really kind of nice and made it special for me to hear what some fans thought. That means a lot to me.”

Almost as much as being on the Calgary Flames opening roster.

Conroy needs nine games to reach 1,000 for his NHL career, and it would appear he’ll take another step when the Flames face the Oilers in Edmonton Thursday night to open the season.

Conroy came to camp with a two-way contract and knowing he’d have to battle for a roster spot. The wave of injuries which has four regulars on the shelf helped his case, but he survived.

“You made it, but you’ve got to prove yourself every day because there’s guys coming back,” Conroy said.

“You always believe you’re gonna make it. If you come in with a defeatist attitude, that’s not going to work.

“Hopefully, I’ll be on the ice (Thursday) but I’ll take it one day at a time.”

A couple of days ago, Conroy was on pins and needles. Brendan Morrison’s arrival made his perch even more precarious.

“I think I over-thought it a few days ago, and it just consumes you,” Conroy admitted. “I thought ‘Just let it go and what happens, happens.’ ”

Conroy wasn’t the only one who defied the odds. Rookie defenceman T.J. Brodie grabbed a spot with an outstanding performance, and Stefan Meyer survived the war of attrition. Meyer played four games for the Florida Panthers in the 2007-08 season, but the product of Fox Valley, Sask., is at another level.

“So much more special,” Meyer said. “Especially since I was down and out and I scratched and clawed, never stopped believing I could play in this league.

“Nothing’s in stone. I have nothing, just made the opening day roster. Now I have work to do, help this team any way I can. I want to stay here.”

Meyer, 25, has played 333 AHL games.

“Man is it fun to be a hockey player, especially an NHL player,” he said. “I don’t want to take anything for granted, just work hard and let things unfold and make it hard for them to ship me out of here.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/RandySportak


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