Young squad plans return

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:37 PM ET


 TAMPA -- Craig Conroy sees a bright future for the Calgary Flames.

 Amid the heartache and pain of defeat, he found a silver lining in the dressing room.

 "This is a good, young team," he said after feeling the sting of the 2-1 Game 7 to the Tampa Bay Lighting last night. "I feel our 'D' are great, they've got great players coming in, so it's very promising.

 "The one thing I think we've got to take out of this is we want to be different than Anaheim and we want to be different than Carolina. We want to come back.

 "We want to come back next year. You get a taste of it and you want it."

 Understandably, the disappointment of having lost the Stanley Cup final in Game 7 was a harsh reality to take.

 Then came the chance to look forward.

 Hard to do moments after suffering such a crushing blow but not impossible.

 "This is gonna make our younger players better," said veteran Dave Lowry, who's likely played his last NHL game. "You have to suffer pain and that's something our hockey club is doing but we've got a lot of good years ahead."

 Start with goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, 27, who staked a place among the league leaders all season and set a record with a 1.69 goals-against average.

 Go to the defence, with the oldest member of the core being 28-year-old Rhett Warrener. Robyn Regehr and Jordan Leopold are still a couple of years away from their prime.

 Up front, you have Jarome Iginla -- arguably the most complete player in the NHL -- to build around. Youngsters Chuck Kobasew, Oleg Saprykin and Matthew Lombardi showed they have plenty of upside.

 "Look at the year and everything we've done and it's very important to realize how far we've come," Regehr said.

 The crystal ball, however, doesn't show whether Conroy will be part of it. Conroy completed the final year of his contract and is less than a month away from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

 Same with Chris Simon, Dean McAmmond, Krzysztof Oliwa and Lowry -- although he may retire.

 "I want to come back but it's not really my decision," Conroy said. "I really hope this is not my last game (with the Flames).

 "Why would you want to leave when you've got the best player in the game? This is going to be a very good team and I'd love to stay."


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