By A Z R
Calgary (Domebeers) - In a move that will no doubt leave observers both hurt and confused, Craig Conroy announced his retirement today. After playing regularly in the NHL for 15 seasons, the former Selke award nominee has decided to call it a career.
"Yeah, umm, I actually haven't made up my mind about that yet, so..." said the always affable Conroy when asked about making the tough decision to hang up the skates for good.
The Calgary Flames had placed, and had Craig pass through, waivers a little over a week ago. Since that time, Craig has been considering his options of playing with the Abbotsford Heat or retiring.
Ken King, the Flames President, said, "Today is a hard day, it's a sad day, but it's also a joyous day as well. Craig is moving onward and upward with his life, and we wish him the best. I'm glad that he was able to make a decision, and more importantly I hope he is at peace with that decision."
"Loubardias is probably a little worried." Ken added.
"Complete shock," said acting General Manager Jay Feaster when reached in a buffet line. "They're out of dumplings. Can you believe that? Anyways, Craig has been a valuable member of this organization,and well, you know how the fans feel about him. We felt that it was only right to give him all the time he needed to make this decision. We would have loved him down at Abbotsford."
For Conroy, joining the Abbotsford Heat and mentoring the youth there was not a realistic option. With his daughters growing up, Craig felt that it was important to be with and share time with them.
"I actually haven't retired yet. I don't know why you keep saying I have and are asking for a quote. What paper did you say you write for?" said a clearly emotional Craig Conroy when asked about the possibility of playing in Abbotsford. "Would I play down there? Probably not. How did you get this phone number?"
Some have questioned the wisdom of adding a near 40 year old player to the organizations farm team, which would take away a roster spot from a younger player. However, by announcing his retirement today, this issue seems to have been put to bed. When reached on the street, a random man in a Flames toque said, "I kinda question why they would send him down there (to Abbotsford). We don't really have too many forward prospects as it is. I guess he retired though, and it wasn't that big of a deal anyways. Remember he called the radio during the playoffs?"
The relationship Craig Conroy had with the fans of the Calgary Flames was one of the more unique in sports. Never known for his ability to score goals, never the fastest skater or the best passer, the fans appreciated what type of player Craig was on the ice, and more importantly, the type of person he was off it.
On ice, he was a Selke nominated defensive forward who finishes his career a +98. He collected 542 points, 182 of them being goals, in 1009 career NHL games. Off the ice, he was always involved in the Calgary community, and many in that community would call the man a friend. His affinity for the city and the cities affinity for him would manifest itself visibly over the years, especially whenever he scored a goal.
When asked to reflect on the career of Craig Conroy, his long time friend and team mate Jarome Iginla had this to say, "Don't yell at me in practice. Dion used to that and we traded him. I though everyone would get the message. I guess everyone didn't. I bet they do now. But he (Craig Conroy) did retire though, eh? I thought he would have at least waited until we (the team) got back into (Calgary)."
"It's sad, though, you know? I thought he would have figured it out by now. I have a decibel threshold in practice. You go over that, you're gone, I don't care who you are."
Looking back on a career that spanned more than a decade, and several CBA's, Craig said, "Listen man, I'm not retired, ok? I haven't announced my retirement. If I do though, you will be the last to know. If you call me again about this stuff, I will call the police. Understood?"
"Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired."