Conroy holds court again

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:11 AM ET

It wasn't a pretty picture the last time Craig Conroy stood on Saddledome ice.

Martin St. Louis had just scored in double overtime to claim Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final for the Tampa Bay Lightning when Conroy was photographed in front of goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff with a look of disbelief on his face.

The former Calgary Flames centre returned to the 'Dome yesterday for the first time since signing with the Los Angeles Kings as a free agent after the 2004 playoff run, fully enjoying the TV cameras covering him from every angle as if he was starring in his own reality series.

Stopping to chat with some of the friendly faces along the way, Conroy said it was nice to be back.

"It was a good feeling flying in last night and then coming to the rink today," said Conroy. "I've got to make sure I walk by the first door and make sure I go to the second but it's pretty exciting.

"It's the first time I've been back since the Cup run. Brings back a lot of good memories."

In addition to the friends he has in the Flames dressing room, there is something special Conroy is looking forward to seeing while he's in town: The Flames' 2004 Western Conference championship banner.

"I tried to watch when they did the unveiling but we had a game that night. I had to go right before," recalled Conroy, who had to wait until tonight's game against his former mates to get a peek at the prize, which was rolled up in the rafters while the Kings practiced.

"When I first step out on the ice, I'll give a quick look up, 'cause I know that was a lot of hard work on my part, too, and I feel a big part of that team. It's going to be special looking up there and seeing it. I wish I could have seen the Stanley Cup banner up there instead but we'll have to take this one for now."

Conroy is trying to create some new memories in L.A. after signing a lucrative four-year deal worth more than $12 million in the summer of 2004.

Things aren't exactly the same in California as they are in Canada when it comes to the sport of hockey but the former Flames fan favourite is enjoying himself south of the border.

"I love it. It's definitely a different atmosphere," said Conroy. "In Calgary, everything's about the Calgary Flames. There, you're really competing against a lot of different markets but, you know what, we have a lot of great fans and that's the one thing that makes it fun.

"Every now and then there's some celebrities down there so that makes it even that much more fun."

Although Conroy has played in the NHL for more than eight seasons, he became a rookie again Monday night by being selected to the U.S. Olympic team for the first time.

"At 34, I didn't know if I was ever going to get an opportunity," said Conroy after congratulating fellow Olympian Jordan Leopold in the hallway. "This is a dream come true. I remember the '80 Olympics. I remember the last Olympics when I was sitting here watching Jarome (Iginla) -- watching him bring home the gold medal. It was exciting.

"It was nice to see Jarome win it. I would have loved to have seen the U.S. bring home gold but if it couldn't be us I was glad it was him."


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