After a near-month long search, the Calgary Flames did not have to go far to find a new general manager, with the club announcing Tuesday they promoted assistant general manager Craig Conroy.
Conroy, who spent the bulk of his NHL career with the Flames, replaces Brad Treliving after Treliving and the club mutually parted ways in mid-April.
Conroy retired from playing during the 2010-11 season and immediately joined the Flames front office. He served as the club’s special assistant to the GM for four seasons. He was then named the Flames’ assistant GM, a position he held for nine years prior to his promotion.
“Thank you to the Flames ownership group for the confidence and trust they have demonstrated by providing me with this opportunity,” Conroy said in a statement. “As, to John Bean and Don Maloney for the very detailed process that has brought us to this moment. Over the course of the past 12 years, I’ve put in the time in every aspect of our hockey operations to prepare myself for today. I’m ready to accept this challenge and promise our fans that our team will do the work required to make them proud on the journey to deliver a championship.”
Promoting Conroy to GM was one of a handful of personnel changes the Flames announced. The Flames also said they hired Dave Nonis as their senior vice president of hockey operations and assistant general manager. Nonis, who was previously the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks, has spent the last three years as the assistant GM for the Anaheim Ducks.
The Flames also announced added responsibilities for assistant GMs Brad Pascall and Chris Snow. Pascall was named vice president of hockey operations while Snow was named the vice president of data/analytics.
Even before Treliving and the Flames parted ways, there was a belief that this could be an offseason of change for the Flames.
They were coming off a 2021-22 season that saw them reach the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs .only to be forced to re-tool significant portions of their roster. They lost a pair of 100-point forwards last offseason when Johnny Gaudreau left in free agency to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Matthew Tkachuk was traded to the Florida Panthers. Another 100-point forward in Jonathan Huberdeau and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar came the other way.
The Flames also signed center Nazem Kadri in free agency after he finished with a career-high 87 points and played a significant role in helping the Colorado Avalanche win the third Stanley Cup title in franchise history.
Even with those additions, the Flames still struggled to score goals. They were 19th in goals per game in addition to facing other challenges such as having the second poorest team save percentage in 5-on-5 play, according to Natural Stat Trick.
Yet they still entered the final weeks of the regular season fighting for a playoff spot only to fall two points shy.
Conroy and his front office will have several items they must address prior to the start of the season. Finding a new coach is one of them, with the Flames announcing they fired Darryl Sutter just weeks after Treliving’s departure.
Then there’s the matter of how Conroy and his front-office staff will improve the Flames roster.
The Flames have several players in Rasmus Andersson, Blake Coleman, Andrew Mangiapane, Jacob Markstrom, Huberdeau, Kadri and Weegar with more than two years left on their current contracts. CapFriendly projects the Flames have $1.25 million in available cap space — a predicament facing several clubs in the current flat cap environment.
Top prospect De La Cruz goes 458 feet for 1st HR
CINCINNATI — Reds newcomer Elly De La Cruz hit his first major league homer with a 458-foot, two-run drive off the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ Noah Syndergaard and later tripled Wednesday night in an 8-6 win.
With fellow rookie Matt McLain on second base in the first inning, De La Cruz, a 21-year-old switch-hitter, smashed an 0-1 fastball that left the bat at 114.8 mph and landed in the last rows of the right-field stands at Great American Ball Park.
A day after making his big league debut, De La Cruz, who was named baseball’s top prospect by ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel in his updated rankings last month, had the second-hardest-hit home run by a player 21 or younger since Statcast started tracking in 2015. A homer by the Toronto Blue Jays‘ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on Aug. 21, 2020, had an exit velocity of 115.9 mph.
De La Cruz, who finished 2-for-4, tripled on a curveball in the third, a drive that went to the wall in right-center on four hops
He reached third in 10.83 seconds, the fastest time in the major leagues this season, according to Statcast. It was the second fastest since the start of the 2020 season, behind 10.75 seconds for the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ Corbin Carroll last Oct. 3.
De La Cruz was 1-for-3 with two walks in his debut Tuesday night. Wednesday night’s home run came in his sixth plate appearance.
The Dominican Republic shortstop hit .298 with 12 home runs and 36 RBIs in 38 games for Triple-A Louisville this season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Canadian fires force MLB, WNBA postponements
Major League Baseball has announced it is postponing games in New York and Philadelphia on Wednesday night because of poor air quality caused by smoke from Canadian wildfires.
A National Women’s Soccer League game in New Jersey and an indoor WNBA game set for Brooklyn were also called off Wednesday amid hazy conditions that have raised alarms from health authorities.
The New York Yankees‘ game against the Chicago White Sox was rescheduled as part of a doubleheader starting at 4:05 p.m. on Thursday, and the Philadelphia Phillies‘ game against the Detroit Tigers was reset for 6:05 p.m. on Thursday, originally an off day for both teams.
What Yankee Stadium normally looks like vs. what it look like today pic.twitter.com/uutCu4Znqh
— Joon Lee (@joonlee) June 7, 2023
“These postponements were determined following conversations throughout the day with medical and weather experts and all of the impacted clubs regarding clearly hazardous air quality conditions in both cities,” MLB said in a statement.
The National Weather Service issued an air quality alert for New York City, saying: “the New York State Department of Health recommends that individuals consider limiting strenuous outdoor physical activity to reduce the risk of adverse health effects.” In Philadelphia, the NWS issued a Code Red.
The Yankees and White Sox played through a lesser haze on Tuesday night.
The WNBA said a game between the Minnesota Lynx and New York Liberty would not be played Wednesday, saying the decision was made to “protect the health and safety of our fans, teams and community.” A makeup date wasn’t immediately announced.
The NWSL postponed Orlando’s match at Gotham in Harrison, New Jersey, from Wednesday night to Aug. 9.
“The match could not be safely conducted based on the projected air quality index,” the NWSL said.
At nearby Belmont Park, The New York Racing Association said training went on as planned ahead of Saturday’s Triple Crown horse race.
“NYRA utilizes external weather services and advanced on-site equipment to monitor weather conditions and air quality in and around Belmont Park,” spokesman Patrick McKenna said Wednesday. “Training was conducted normally today, and NYRA will continue to assess the overall environment to ensure the safety of training and racing throughout the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.”
New York’s NFL teams, the Giants and Jets, both had Wednesday off from offseason workouts. The Giants had been planning to practice inside Thursday, and the Jets say they are also likely to work out indoors Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Yankees place Judge on 10-day IL with toe injury
NEW YORK — For the second time this season, the New York Yankees will need to play without Aaron Judge.
New York placed its superstar slugger on the injured list with a contusion and a ligament sprain in his right big toe, it was announced Wednesday.
Judge does not have a fracture or break in his toe, according to team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad.
“The biggest thing now is trying to get the swelling out of there,” manager Aaron Boone said Tuesday. “He had some improvements today, but now we’ll see where he is in the coming days and then week. But the biggest thing is getting the swelling out of there.”
“I think it definitely could have been worse. Hopefully it’s on the shorter side of things.”
Judge was hurt while making a running catch and crashing into the outfield fence Saturday against the Dodgers and hadn’t played since.
He also spent time on the injured list earlier this season because of a right hamstring strain. When he’s been healthy, Judge has put up MVP-type numbers again, hitting .291/.404/.674 with 19 homers and 2.2 bWAR in 49 games.
New York’s pitching depth also is getting tested.
Nestor Cortes will be placed on the injured list due to a left shoulder injury. Boone mentioned Cortes has struggled to bounce back between starts. He’s expected to miss at least two starts.
Cortes has a 5.16 ERA in 11 starts, striking out 59 batters in 59⅓ innings.
To replace Cortes, New York called up Randy Vasquez from Triple-A. The righty made his major league debut on May 26 against the San Diego Padres, allowing two runs in 4⅔ innings pitched.
Also, pitcher Ryan Weber was diagnosed with a UCL strain and has been placed on the 60-day injured list. The 32-year-old righty has pitched in eight games this season, posting a 3.14 ERA in 14⅓ innings.
In a related roster move, the Yankees recalled outfielder Billy McKinney.
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