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Ryan Leslie sat down with Flames assistant GM Craig Conroy, who talked about his awkward arrival to Calgary, his friendship with Jarome Iginla and his passion for the franchise

by RYAN LESLIE @ryanleslie73 /

Whenever you chat with Flames assistant GM Craig Conroy, you feel like you're getting some all-access pass to the "hockey stories channel." It's like you've been invited to sit at the great what-we-love-about-this-game-behind-the-scenes NHL table.

Oh sure, there are lots of great story tellers in this game, but no one makes you feel like you were there, or wish you were, quite like Conroy. He is one of those good guys, one of those guys you'd like to just have a beer with. One of those guys who, with over a thousand NHL games under his belt, has just about seen it all.

I caught up to ol' No. 24 ahead of Game 1 between the Ducks and Flames in Anaheim. 

It was fitting given that he was instrumental in the Flames last regular-season win there back in 2004. No Kiprusoff. No Iginla. No chance. That was until Conroy went off for four points while breaking teammate Chris Clarke's nose in the process.  

Speaking of Iginla, in this week's Flames Up Close Podcast Conroy talks about his friendship with Jarome and publicly, for the first time, he opens up about ... how he really felt about Iggy's frosted tip hairdo. Spoiler alert: he didn't care for it!

From there the conversation somehow bounces to tales of his humble beginnings in Montreal. Like the time as a rookie when he wired a puck off Patrick Roy's head in warmups during an inter-squad game only to be jumped by his teammates on both sides. 

Or how in his St. Louis days, he was pals with Jim Edmunds and Mark McGwire during the height of the homerun hysteria. Or when Mike Keenan said he'd pay for Wayne Gretzky's hotel bill as a form of an apology only to have the Great One and all his buddies charge everything to his room over the next month or so. How did Iron Mike respond? "He paid the bill. It's Wayne Gretzky, what are you gonna do?"

In addition to all the great stories of the past, Conroy also shares what the players are feeling and going through during this first-round series against Anaheim. It's insight you just can't find anywhere else. 

Yep, Craig Conroy at his finest. A pro's pro, a fan's best friend, and a media darling. 

Enjoy the conversation. 

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