Conroy (right), with fellow Clarkson alumni Chris Clark
and Todd White. (Photo courtesy of Clarkson
Flames captain Craig Conroy was born in the shadow of the
Clarkson Golden Knights. The native of Potsdam, N.Y., averaged
better than a goal per game as a senior at Northwood Prep,
then skated four seasons at Clarkson.
As a freshman at the ECAC powerhouse, Conroy was a member
of the Knights' last Frozen Four team. As a senior he was
a first-team All American and finished as runner-up (to
Minnesota-Duluth's Chris Marinucci) for the Hobey Baker
Award in 1994.
He made his NHL debut in 1995 with the Montreal Canadiens
and suited up in 13 games for the Habs before being dealt
to St. Louis in October 1996. He played the better part
of five seasons with the Blues before he was traded to the
Flames in March 2001. In his first full season with Calgary,
Conroy notched new career-bests in goals (27), assists (48)
and points (75).
After a recent Flames pregame skate, Conroy, 31, talked
with INCH contributor Jess Myers at the Xcel Energy Center
in St. Paul about a life spent in college and pro hockey.
Inside College Hockey: When you played in the ECAC, how
many times did you see naked guys climbing over the boards
Conroy: That was a first for me. It almost looked
like a dummy because the guy fell and was just laying there.
never saw that in the ECAC.
What was the most memorable thing you saw in an ECAC rink,
either your own or on the road?
Playing at Cornell was probably the best because
they had so many things going on during games. They had
chants and songs and people doing things non-stop. It almost
seemed like they put more effort into that than school.
They must have worked all week on that stuff.
was another great place to play. They had one little cowbell
but it got the whole place rocking. I always wondered how
just one little cowbell could do that.
Growing up where you did, was there ever a question about
whether you’d play for Clarkson?
From the time I was five years old, playing for
Clarkson was my dream. Playing there was my NHL. So when
I finally got to play in the ECAC, I figured that if that
was it, I’d have had a great career. So getting to
actually play in the NHL is better than I ever imagined.
Were you always a Canadiens fan as a kid?
Of course. Hockey Night in Canada always had Montreal
on. We were only about an hour and a half away, so everything
was Montreal, Montreal, Montreal. Then I went there and
they didn’t play me, so now they’re not my favorite
Playing with two Hobey winners (Chris Drury and Jordan Leopold)
on the Flames, do you ever get razzed for being the runner-up?
They don’t even know. They only know the
winner and everybody forgets second place. I honestly don’t
think they know I was the runner-up. They’re too young
Leopold doesn’t even know what’s going on yet.
He’s just still all about Minnesota.
Did you ever feel like you should’ve won the trophy
ahead of Chris Marinucci?
It’s tough because I always feel like the
ECAC might not be as difficult as the other leagues, so
I think they might get less respect. I would have loved
to have won it, but not many of the winners are in the NHL,
so maybe it wasn’t a bad thing to be the runner-up.
I don’t even know where Marinucci is right now. But
I would’ve loved to have won it.
The Flames and the Oilers are like a couple of college all-star
teams. What is it about collegians and Alberta?
Craig Button, our g.m., watches a lot of college
guys, and I think that’s the way the trend is going
in the NHL. It seems like of the top young players, everybody
wants to play college hockey in the U.S. The first-rounders
still usually go to play juniors, but
it seems like everybody else wants to play college hockey,
which is good for us. And then after they play college,
they all want to come to Alberta, which is also good four
Clarkson alum Erik Cole took it up a notch last spring,
getting to the Stanley Cup Finals with the Hurricanes. Any
more pressure on you because of his success?
He did great. I figure that I’ve got to get
us to the postseason so I can get a chance at that. I would’ve
loved to see those guys win the Cup, because Erik really
did take his game to another level. I would’ve been
a little jealous, but somebody’s got to bring the
Cup back to Potsdam eventually. If it’s me or him,
Do you get back to see Clarkson play at all?
that I’m in Alberta I haven’t. It seems like
every time we get a break, Clarkson’s not playing.
But when hockey’s all done I’ll definitely go
back and watch a
lot of games there.