The Flames reacquired the popular veteran Craig Conroy from the Los Angeles Kings on Monday. (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Viewpoint: Scott Morrison
Conroy's return bolsters Flames' Cup hopes
Last Updated Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007
by Scott Morrison
The acquisition of Craig Conroy certainly doesn't make the Calgary Flames a lock to win the Stanley Cup, or even make them a prohibitive favorite to win it.
But it helps big time.
And it sends a couple of strong messages within the dressing room which will also help.
Conroy, of course, was a big part of the Flames remarkable playoff run that fell one win short in 2004, when they were beaten in seven games by the Tampa Bay Lightning, before the lights were turned out in the NHL and before he signed for big dollars with the Los Angeles Kings.
The California experience didn't exactly work out as planned, but bringing Conroy back to Calgary is a good move on the part of general manager Darryl Sutter, who gave up Jamie Lundmark, a fourth and second-round pick to the retooling Kings. Not an overly steep price, in other words.
Now, there are no guarantees that Conroy will rediscover the magic he shared in the spring of '04, and prior to that, playing alongside Jarome Iginla, but there is every reason to believe that when Iginla returns from his knee injury the two will be good again together.
Beyond that, Conroy provides depth down the middle, experience, a strong defensive presence and is a good addition to the dressing room.
There really is no down side.
And the good, strong messages being sent are, one, that the club is looking to improve for the post-season and to make sure they even get there (because they have taken on what is left of $2.4 million in salary this year and next, plus bonuses) and, two, they have found someone who Iginla likes and with whom he has enjoyed his most success. Keeping the best player happy is important, after all.
It will be interesting to see which Conroy the Flames have acquired in terms of his offence. He played on the Kings top line when he arrived in LA, but fell back, for a variety of reasons, to the third or fourth lines this year. So judging him on his numbers, just five goals and 16 points this season, isn't entirely fair because of the circumstances there.
All things being equal, when Iginla returns, the Flames can keep one line together of Alex Tanguay, Daymond Langkow and Kristian Huselius, with Conroy and Iginla together on another line.
With teams looking to load up on rentals before the Feb. 27 deadline, the Flames found a nice fit for this year and next. And like we said, they aren't a lock to win it all, but they improved their chances.
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- Scott Morrison, the recipient of the Hockey Hall of Fame's 2006 Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award, has been covering hockey for 25 years. The Toronto native began his career at the Toronto Sun in 1979. After spending more than 11 years as a hockey writer and columnist at the paper, Morrison became Sports Editor in 1991 and led the section to being named one of North America's top-ten sports sections in 1999 - the first sports section in Canada to receive the AP Sports Editors North American Award. Scott, a former two-term president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, joined Rogers Sportsnet in 2001 as Managing Editor, Hockey, and is currently both a commentator on Hockey Night in Canada and a columnist for CBC.ca.