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Craig Conroy faces tough choice: AHL demotion or retirement

Jan 26, 2011, 5:07 PM EDT

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Craig Conroy, Jessica Conroy

When I look back at the Calgary Flames team that came within one win of a Stanley Cup in 2004, there are a lot of players who come to mind. Obviously, there are the two most important players: Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff. Beyond that there’s the hockey world’s introduction to Mike Commodore’s ginger ‘fro and the timely goal scoring of Martin Gelinas.

Yet Craig Conroy might have been the most concise embodiment of that sand-paper-with-a-dash-of-skill Flames team. You won’t find many people in the hockey world without at least a passing admiration for the versatile pivot, but it sounds like he might be near his final days in the NHL.

Eric Duhatschek of the Globe & Mail reports that Flames GM Jay Feaster gave Conroy to unsavory options to consider over the all-star break: the team can demote him to the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat or the forward could instead opt for retirement. Duhatschek reports that Feaster shopped the center around the league, but no one opted to trade for the cheap veteran.

If this is it for Conroy, he has nothing to be ashamed of. The 123rd pick of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft managed to play 1,009 regular season games and 81 playoff contests over his 16-season NHL career. He’s probably going through some tough times right now, but Duhatschek also writes that he might have a future in broadcasting.

Conroy should be fine if he shows the same drive in his post-NHL career as he did in the 16 scrappy seasons he spent with Calgary, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Montreal.

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