Good guy knows how to brighten day

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:17 PM ET

Calgary Flames fans believe Craig Conroy is one of the NHL’s all-time good guys.

It’s true, and here is proof.

During the Flames’ 2004 playoff run, my father battled through the complications from a liver transplant and died June 30 in Vancouver.

After a few days of disappointment and dealing with all the necessary arrangements, our family decided to spend some time enjoying the beaches of Stanley Park on a warm July day.

That’s when Conroy called to offer his condolences.

The always friendly centre had signed with the Los Angeles Kings and was contacted by a co-worker about leaving the Flames. He was also told the news, which prompted him to dial.

After a few moments chatting, he then asked to speak with my son, Kenton, who was 13 at the time and — naturally — a big Flames fan. Conroy not only wanted to cheer him up but told him of his decision before making a request.

“When I come back to Calgary, I don’t know if anyone will cheer for me,” he said. “If I got you tickets to the game, would you come and cheer?”

A teen who was so sad for days was immediately smiling from ear to ear.

Since the lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season, it was almost a year and a half before Conroy and the Kings finally made their way to the Stampede City to face the Flames.

We had stayed in touch through the work stoppage, but the subject of the tickets was on the backburner all that time. In fact, Kenton wasn’t sure whether his new favourite player would remember his promise.

He did, and for one day, a die-hard Flames fan was happy to support the Kings at the Saddledome.

In the years since, Kenton and Craig have met a few times and cheered each other’s accomplishments.

How many NHL players do you know of demanding to receive a text with news whether a youngster is named his high school’s male athlete of the year? Conroy did.

For many years, the phone call and promise kept was a secret. “The guys will say I’m sucking up to the media,” Conroy once joked.

Not true. It’s a case of a person with a good heart taking the time to make a youngster’s day brighter amidst dark clouds. Flames fans should rejoice in knowing one of their heroes is that terrific of a person off the ice.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/RandySportak


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