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Conroy hopes NHL remains in Olympics

Saturday, 01.02.2010 / 2:42 PM / All-Access Vancouver

By Todd Kimberley - NHL.com Correspondent

"It's the chance of a lifetime to be in the Olympics — especially for all the Canadians this year, or if the Russians can go next time. Hopefully, the NHL does go and play. I had a great time ... you feel like you'd miss something if they stop having the pros go."
-- Craig Conroy

CALGARY -- The National Hockey League has sent its players to four straight Olympics.

Craig Conroy sincerely hopes there's a drive for five.

The NHL hasn't committed to a presence at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, but Conroy is adding his voice to the likes of Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin — and urging the League to participate.

"I had my chance four years ago, and I had a great time," the Calgary Flames' 38-year-old center told the Calgary Herald on Friday. "I think it's great the guys are in (the Olympics) ... I hope they're in it in Russia, too.

"It's the chance of a lifetime to be in the Olympics — especially for all the Canadians this year, or if the Russians can go next time," added the native of Potsdam, N.Y. "Hopefully, the NHL does go and play. I had a great time ... you feel like you'd miss something if they stop having the pros go."

Conroy, left off Team USA in 2002 at Salt Lake City despite a 75-point season, fulfilled his Olympic dream at Torino, Italy, at age 34, notching a goal and five points in six games as the Americans finished a disappointing eighth.

The two-time Selke Trophy finalist approves of the new wave of American talent getting its shot in Vancouver.

"I think they have great young forwards. You have guys like (New Jersey's Zach) Parise, (Chicago's Patrick) Kane," he said. "I mean, every line, every position, is pretty stacked (on Team Canada), but I think (the Americans) are going to go in with a hot goalie, and anything can happen in those tournaments with a hot goalie. (Ryan) Miller — I think he's one of the best goalies in the League."

Flames captain Jarome Iginla also praised the Americans' youth movement.

"They have a good young team," Iginla told reporters. "There's a lot of good young American players around the League. Sometimes you don't even realize they're American until (rosters are set)."

Conroy's career high for goals in a single season was 27, but he admits he shrugged a rather large monkey off his back with his first tally of the 2009-10 campaign Dec. 30 against the Los Angeles Kings.

One night later, against the Edmonton Oilers, he found the back of the net again — and carries that two-game goal streak, a four-game point streak (2 goals, 2 assists), and a bushel of confidence into Saturday’s home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"It does take a lot of weight off your shoulders, even though (Flames coach Brent Sutter) was good about it, saying, 'Ah, don't worry about it ... eventually you'll score,'" Conroy told reporters. "This is definitely the longest (dry spell) of my career, and I'm not a huge goal-scorer. It’s frustrating it took that long."

Flames forward Eric Nystrom has been a semi-steady linemate of Conroy recently, and was on the ice when the Flames' elder statesman ended his scoring woes against the Kings.

"We were all saying, 'Tonight's the night' for about 20 games," Nystrom told the Calgary Sun. "I didn't realize it was him. When I saw his face, I was so excited."