There’s a lot of uncertainty around the Calgary Flames and their management, coaching, and even players as their 2022–23 season was a disaster of unfathomable proportions. So in times where there is good news to share, it’s worth sharing. Craig Conroy—Flames assistant general manager (AGM)—was given a big opportunity at the national level. On March 22, USA Hockey announced their management group for the 2023 U.S. Men’s National Team, and Conroy was named to the management team.
Team USA announces management group
In an announcement shared by USA Hockey, Chris Clark (general manager of the 2023 men’s team and also an AGM of the Columbus Blue Jackets) named the head coach and members of USA’s management group.
David Quinn, head coach of the San Jose Sharks was named as the team’s head coach. Two AGMs in Conroy and Ryan Martin (AGM of the New York Rangers) were named to the management group. They will assist with player personnel.
The IIHF Men’s World Championship will span from May 12 through May 28 in Europe, with games being played in Tampere, Finland, and Riga, Latvia. With just a little over 50 days between Team USA’s announcement and the start of the tournament, expect Conroy to report to the team sooner rather than later. What this means for his responsibilities as Flames AGM is unclear at the moment.
Conroy’s manager qualifications
Conroy’s management career started promptly after his NHL retirement. In his final season in the NHL, he was signed to a one-year, two-way contract on a league-minimum salary of $500K (per CapFriendly.com). Making little impact by scoring two goals in eighteen games, he was eventually waived and went unclaimed.
Rather than playing in the AHL, Conroy announced his retirement from the NHL and immediately joined the Flames in a management position as a special assistant to then general manager Jay Feaster. Then in 2014, Conroy was promoted to assistant general manager under Brad Treliving—a role Conroy’s fulfilled since.
What this means for Conroy
Conroy’s body of work as an AGM has officially spanned nearly a decade on top of his time as a special assistant. He’s seen the Flames go through several eras, from the days of Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, through the Johnny Gaudreau era, and now this current era of Jonathan Huberdeau and company. Considering Conroy went from literally playing hockey for the Flames to finding a managerial position within a matter of days, it’s suffice to say that he’s really seen it all with Calgary. He’s been an integral member of the team at every level.
Now, with the opportunity with Team USA, he’ll get the chance to help build a team with the express intent of winning the international tournament. As mentioned, it’s not clear if Conroy will take a temporary hiatus with the Flames or whether he’ll juggle responsibilities, but he’s going to gain pretty valuable experience in what it takes to build a competitive team—something the Flames could really use.
Could this be a stepping stone for Conroy’s next path? He’s said himself that he just wants to win the Stanley Cup, but that he also wants to “be the guy, at some point, driving the bus.” This experience with Team USA will definitely be another bullet point to add to his managerial resume.
Back in 2017, Conroy was interviewed by the Buffalo Sabres for their then-vacant general manager position after Tim Murray was fired. The Sabres had to obtain permission from the Flames to talk to Conroy, which they did in their search, narrowing their shortlist down to six candidates. Ultimately, Jason Botterill was selected and Conroy remained with Calgary in his AGM role.
What this means for Calgary
It’s a clear indication that Conroy is looking to bolster his chances of getting that GM role without the “A” attached to the beginning. Being under Treliving’s tutelage for nearly a decade now, Conroy knows what he wants as the next step.
For Calgary, the uncertainty around the team could lead to a major change come the offseason. Treliving does not have a contract extension in place, and the status of contract talks have been on the backburner. Any opportunity Treliving gets, he’ll immediately divert and say his attention is solely on the team on the ice above all else.
If the Flames decide to clean house and move on from Treliving, Conroy could either be a part of the sweeping changes and find himself looking for a new home, or he could already be next in line for the promotion.
New chapters to be written
No matter how you look at it, the Flames are at a turning point. Everything they’ve done off and on the ice since last year’s crazy offseason was the start, and no one knows how long the turning point will last. How long will it take the dust to settle and what shape with the team be in when it does?
However, one sure thing that is happening is the Conroy is preparing himself for change as well. Whether it’ll be with or away from Calgary, that’s anyone’s guess.