The general manager hunt in Calgary is picking up steam as rumours are swirling around potential candidates. Interviews are being conducted and if it were up to Calgary Flames fans, Craig Conroy deserves the position.
Who is Craig Conroy
The former captain of the Flames has spent a combined 21 years with the organization—nine as a player and 12 in management. Conroy captained the Flames in 2002–03 before giving it up to Jarome Iginla the following year. They were linemates pivotal in the Stanley Cup run. The two are notably still very close friends.
After two separate stints with the Flames as a player, a retirement in 2011 led straight into a managerial position with the organization. Conroy has held various roles within the front office, most recently the assistant GM from 2014 to present.
Conroy was the finalist for the Buffalo Sabres GM role up for grabs a few years ago but he remained with the Flames and has succeeded in his role in Calgary. His latest stint involving a managing venture is currently ongoing as he’s a part of Team USA’s management group for the 2023 IIHF Men’s World Championship. That experience will also be valuable for Conroy as he’ll get fresh perspectives surrounded by other hockey executives while also seeing how top Flames prospect Matt Coronato performs as a higher level.
Why would the Flames promote Conroy?
The fact Conroy has been a part of the franchise for so long is a positive for both him and the organization. Everyone’s familiar with each other, hopefully making a smooth transition for the players and new coach. Due to Conroy’s history with the franchise and close relationship with the Calgary Wranglers, a candidate the likes of Mitch Love would be a strong hire for Conroy too.
Although Conroy was a part of Treliving’s staff, it doesn’t mean Conroy’s team would be a Treliving style team going forward. He’s been watching this team in detail, knows the roster inside and out and has probably been imagining what he would do differently each passing year long.
As mentioned, Conroy also has high popularity with the fan base. This is a pivotal decision in the trajectory of the franchise’s history, and the pressure from fans is greater after one of the most disappointing seasons ever. Being a fan-favourite would help the Flames earn a little more leeway if things don’t go right immediately. It seems trivial, but there are financial implications of who they choose as GM and Conroy is safe in that regard. A team led by Conroy will have a higher chance of selling more tickets among the Flames fan base.
Looking forward with Conroy
Conroy is overdue for a promotion and looks eager for the opportunity. Throughout the season, Conroy was available to the media and often voiced his opinions on player usage, lines and how to properly impact the dressing room.
Conroy’s still on the younger side in management terms and is only 10 years removed from the game as a player. Although the league has transitioned a lot in the last 10 years, Conroy understands more of the younger generation of players and knows the the game at a very high level from an NHL player’s perspective.
It’s a gamble for the Flames, but someone close to home that knows the franchise inside and out might be just what they need and the safest option. A steadying hand that would make change, but still knows the core of his team enough to not make too much change.
Craig Conroy could be the best option on the table for the Calgary Flames and grow into a promising general manager and jumpstart the Flames move back into contention.
Calgary Flames GM Candidate Profiles
Check out more of our general manager candidate profiles here to get the full run-down on who Calgary’s looking at and why they are good or bad fits with the team:
Craig Conroy | Eric Tulsky | Kyle Dubas | Brad Pascall | Mike Futa | Brandon Pridham | Sean Burke | Marc Bergevin | Mark Hunter