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Feb. 4, 2007 at the Pengrowth Saddledome
by Mike Board
Craig Conroy made no bones about returning to Calgary in a trade on Monday. He's happy to be back. He wants to make a difference and he wants to get his game back on track.
"It was the best time of my life, hockey-wise, when I was here," said Conroy, acquired by the Flames in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings. "Now we have a chance to get back and do something that I thought we should have done a couple of years ago and that's win a Stanley Cup."
Conroy left the Flames as a free agent in July, 2004 following the Flames run to the Stanley Cup finals and with a lockout looming. The Flames at the time were holding pat on contracts, waiting to see what the future and a potential new Collective Bargaining Agreement would bring. When the Kings offered a four-year contract, Conroy made the jump to California.
Playing with Pavol Demitra and Alexander Frolov, he had an impressive season with the Kings, notching 22 goals and 66 points last season.
But the Kings took on a new direction, a youth direction, and the 35-year-old Conroy, never felt like things were going to work for him and his five goals and 11 assists might just back up those thoughts.
"It just didn't seem like I was fitting into their plans. They have some great young players like (Anze) Kopitar, Mike Cammalleri and (Alexander) Frolov. And those young guys need to get ice time. They really did me a favour by moving me, thankfully to Calgary," said Conroy.
In parts of four seasons in Calgary, Conroy developed the offensive side of his game -- he already had solid numbers in the face-off category and the plus-minus category. And, of course, he developed a chemistry with Jarome Iginla, both on and off the ice.
Conroy isn't sure where he will end up in the Flames scheme or whether or not he will be teamed with Iginla, who skated with the team for the first time since injuring his knee earlier this month on Monday and hinted that he might be back in the line-up by the end of the week.
"They have a very good team here," said Conroy upon arriving in Calgary Monday evening. "I just want to come in and be a part of it. This is a chance for me to turn it around. You never know where you are going to fit in but you come in and do whatever you have to do. Whatever the opportunity is I want to show that I can still play."
Conroy will wear No. 24 -- his old No. 22 is being worn by Daymond Langkow who is in the midst of a career season.
"They said they had 24 or 33. Beggars can't be choosers. I told them I'd take 24 and keep it in the 20s," he laughed.
Conroy will switch dressing rooms and face his old team, the Kings, immediately as the Flames host Los Angeles Tuesday (7 p.m. Pengrowth Saddledome, Sportsnet, The Fan 960).
"There will be a lot of emotions. My heart has always been here and I think these are the greatest fans going. I think it will be a warm welcome but if I am wrong, well, I have been wrong before," said Conroy.
The Kings and Conroy practised on an outdoor rink in Red Deer on Monday and he was called into meet with coach Marc Crawford following the practice. "My mind was going a million miles an hour. He probably didn't know what to do because I was so happy. I had a pretty big smile. Honestly, I didn't think I would be back here. You never know...Personally, it couldn't have been a better team to come to for me and for my family."