Flames players praise Hotchkiss

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

CALGARY - Whether he possesses shares or not, centre Craig Conroy still considers Harley Hotchkiss an owner of the Calgary Flames.

As Hotchkiss battles prostate cancer, he will sell his 22% ownership stake in the NHL team. At the NHL board of governors meetings Tuesday in Florida, it was approved that Hotchkiss can remain on the board of directors and still act as alternate governor after selling his stake in the club.

Whether he’s technically an owner or not, veteran Flames players won’t change their opinion of the man who is highly regarded around the league and inside the team’s dressing room.

“Whenever I think of the Calgary Flames owners, Harley is front and centre to me,” Conroy said. “He’s such a great person. He’s always got a positive word for you. That helps you get through the day when things aren’t going well.”

Conroy has spent the majority of the last decade in Calgary and was always impressed with the leadership from Hotchkiss.

“At the top, it all flows down,” Conroy said. “When you have someone like Harley at the top, it does make a difference.

“You wish everything was great and his health was there. It’s not right now. We’re pulling for him, and hopefully he beats this thing and moves on.”

Coincidentally, Flames players participated in the Movember campaign to raise awareness for prostate cancer, the disease afflicting Hotchkiss.

Defenceman Cory Sarich spearheaded the movement, and the fourth-year Flame said he wasn’t aware of Hotchkiss’ illness at the time.

Still, Sarich is in the same corner with Conroy on having a great deal of respect for the man.

“He’s been a great part of this team,” Sarich said. “If he stays on in any facet, it’s a bonus. He would be sadly missed when he leaves because he’s truly one of the great guys in the sport that I’ve met.”

When Sarich came to the Flames in 2007, he found it surprising to see a team owner around as much as Hotchkiss.

“He’s a guy who makes the effort,” Sarich said. “He makes you feel fantastic when he’s around. He makes a point of being here so guys know he’s involved.

“He’s still a significance presence around here. The whole organization feels like a collective because of him. I’ve been on teams where you only see the owners once a year. This is a lot different here in Calgary.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ianbusby57


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