The last couple of years have been anything but stable for Syracuse Crunch forward Cory Conacher. Since winning a Calder Cup Championship and adding a league MVP to his trophy case with the Norfolk Admirals in 2011-2012, the 5-foot-8 ball of energy has bounced from city to city and even continent to continent. After a few seasons of uncertainty that saw stops in Ottawa, Buffalo, Long Island, Utica, and Bern SC of the Swiss-A league, things have come full circle.
The former Canisius Griff standout inked a deal mid-July with the organization that made him a household name, the Tampa Bay Lightning, brought in by Steve Yzerman on a one-year, one-way contract worth $575,000. Typically, when a player is signed to a one-way deal, it means that they are destined to spend their time with the big club. This was a rare circumstance, however, as many expected Conacher to somehow make his way to Syracuse and be one of the first guys on standby for a recall.
That is exactly what happened, and while Conacher may be disappointed he hasn’t accumulated quite the amount of time in the NHL that he would probably have liked, his play isn’t indicative of that mindset, and fans certainly aren’t complaining about the results.
We have all seen examples throughout the years of players being demoted to the AHL and pouting until their time here is up. The thing most admirable about Conacher’s time spent in Syracuse is that he hasn’t treated the reassignment like a demotion at all. He’s kept quiet, kept his chin up, worked hard, and been a consummate professional.
There’s another impressive little tidbit as well: Conacher paces the Crunch roster in scoring despite missing time with an injury and a stint with the Lightning. In 41 games played, he has only hit the back of the net ten times, but his abilities to create chances off of the rush and open up ice has made him one of the league’s best playmakers. To go along with those ten tallies, he has notched 32 assists for a season total of 42 points. He is third on the roster in shots on goal and is averaging over a point-per-game just over halfway through the campaign, which earned him a spot on the 2017 AHL All-Star team.
Conacher shows no fear on the ice and is constantly finding himself in scrums with guys twice his size. He is one of the Crunch’s offensive catalysts, a locker room leader, a protector, and a ‘Cuse fan favorite. It’s been a crazy five years or so for number 89, but if it was up to the Crunch fanbase, he’s welcome to settle down and find a home in the heart of New York.