I want to make it clear right here, Craig getting this role, it isn’t a popularity contest. We don’t win by popularity. We win by having the right people in the right boxes and the right winners around us and I think Craig is a star in the making. - Brad Treliving
CALGARY, AB -- Bring back Gaudreau.
It was the message -- and mission -- bestowed upon Craig Conroy in April and one that was key in helping him become one of two assistant general managers named Friday to aid current Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving.
Because if he didn’t bring back the reigning Hobey Baker Award winner?
“I don’t know,” Conroy hesitated. “I think I might’ve been out of there….
“Everybody said it’s a given. I’m like, it wasn’t a given but I’m pretty happy he came back on the plane. Billy Arnold, too. I feel bad for Billy but Johnny had to leave school and make a decision. It was nice to have him back on the plane.
“I think when I got the word from Brian, ‘Well I’ve got stuff to do, can you pick these guys up?’ I’m like ‘Whoa, okay’. It was stressful. You go in there and everyone expects you to bring them back.
“But if you don’t come back with them, that’s my fault. I was happy he was sitting on the plane across for me on the way back.”
Gaudreau and Arnold sat opposite Conroy on that flight.
Friday morning, Conroy was sandwiched between Treliving and Brad Pascall -- Calgary’s other newly minted assistant GM.
The Gaudreau and Arnold signings predate Treliving’s hiring on April 28th but helped re-enforce Conroy’s value in the organization.
“Craig is a guy who I heard a lot about coming in,” Treliving said in the press conference. “I know he was a popular player here, a popular person around the organization.
“I want to make it clear right here, Craig getting this role, it isn’t a popularity contest. We don’t win by popularity. We win by having the right people in the right boxes and the right winners around us and I think Craig is a star in the making.
“This guy bleeds the Calgary Flames and is very well deserving. He’s going to be a big, important piece of our organization moving forward.”
Prior to joining the front office, Conroy spent 17 seasons as a player with the Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings and Calgary, collecting 182 goals and 542 points in 1009 games -- 507 of which were in a Flames uniform.
The Potsdam, NY native followed up his on-ice career by serving as special assistant to the general manager’s position for three seasons.
Conroy didn’t have long to make an impression on Treliving.
But he did.
“This is the first I’ve got to work with him and this is really the first time I’ve met him. Obviously I’ve heard about Craig and followed his career. Coming in here, coming into Calgary, I have been thoroughly impressed.
“I think his instincts are terrific. I’ve sat through now two meetings. I’ve asked questions. I’ve pushed him on his beliefs and what I found with Craig is I thought he wasn’t just thinking the same things. If he had an opinion, he shared it. I think he’s got such a bright future and I’m glad he’s with us right now. He makes us better. I’m excited to have Craig Conroy.”
In Treliving’s eyes, Conroy is a key piece moving forward.
Conroy hoped Treliving would see him that way.
“Our interaction was limited,” Conroy said. “For him to come in and to work every day together and to go to the (NHL Scouting) Combine and all the meetings, the pro scouting meetings, the amateur meetings, it was big. It was good for me. I had a much better feeling after two or three weeks.
“At first, you’re never sure.”
Crowned with a new title and tasked with new responsibility, now Conroy is.