SUN Hockey Pool

Teammates happy for Connie

RANDY SPORTAK Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:44 AM ET

One by one, all the Calgary Flames players came into the room to show their support for Craig Conroy on the day of his retirement.

It didn’t matter that Friday was an off-day after arriving in the middle of the night following a flight from Atlanta.

They wouldn’t miss it.

“Everybody wanted to come down,” said Flames captain Jarome Iginla.

“Craig is a friend to all of us. Whoever has played with him over the years on different teams, they always ask about him.

“He leaves an imprint.”

The expectation was Conroy would be saddened to call it a career at the Saddledome, but it was the opposite.

“He’s such a positive guy,” Iginla said. “If he was taking it tougher, his friends and teammates would probably take it a bit tougher. It’s nice as players and friends to see him upbeat and positive.

“It makes sense because that’s how he always is.”

Conroy officially hung up his skates and will now be the special assistant to acting Flames GM Jay Feaster.

“It’s good for Craig that he’s taking a role in management,” Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr said.

“It’s a really good step. He’s still involved in hockey. It’s good he’s still involved with players.

“It’s good for young players or the older more experienced player, because Craig has been in a lot of different situations we can draw from.”

Among his duties will be to work with players in the system, a natural job for the outgoing centre who played 1,009 regular-season NHL games, including half of them for the Flames.

“He talks so much, he will be able to pull things out of guys,” Iginla said.

“It could be a more difficult transition for some guys. He will do fine. The guys have a lot of respect for him, and he has a lot of integrity.

“It’s great that he will still be around.”

That’s especially true with his upbeat attitude.

“A big smile every morning — You never saw him moping around,” Flames defenceman Cory Sarich said.

“You can count on one hand the days in four years

I saw that out of him. I will miss the big smile and the friendly conversation.

“I remember when I first came here, he was one of the first guys to help me with a lot of things,” said Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.

“He’s a great guy and a great player. He’s a player we’re gonna miss, for sure, but you saw (Friday), he’s good with it. He has a new challenge with hockey.”

Almost forgotten is the success Conroy had on the ice with Iginla, going from a checking centre to a top-line centre.

“Even this year, I was really struggling and I got to play with him in San Jose,” Iginla added.

“That was the start to turning around the season for myself. We had some good opportunities. He’s meant a lot to my career.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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