Tim Conboy has been looking forward to the day when his little brother would turn pro, but he wished the circumstances could have been different.
Andrew Conboy, 22, signed with the Hamilton Bulldogs Feb. 2, after leaving Michigan State following an ugly incident in a game against Michigan.
Conboy and Spartans teammate Corey Tropp were suspended 10 games by MSU for their actions against Wolverines defenseman Steve Kampfer on Jan. 24.
After Kampfer nailed Tropp with an open-ice hit, Conboy stepped in and hit Kampfer into the boards, appearing to punch him fro behind. Tropp then skated up, and swung his stick near the fallen Kampfer’s neck.
Tropp was assessed a major penalty for slashing, two 10-minute misconducts and a double game-disqualification. Conboy was given a double minor for roughing.
“I’ve been talking to him since right after it happened,” said Tim Conboy, 28-year-old captain of the Albany River Rats. “That’s how he plays. That’s how I play. That’s how I taught him to play. He was more just doing it to stick up for a teammate; at the same time, I know it’s college, and it’s not really part of the game there. I don’t necessarily agree with the suspension.
“I saw it. That’s what he was so mad about, that his coach kind of blamed him for starting the whole thing, and they got an equal penalty.
I don’t think it should have been the same. If he got 10 games, my brother should have gotten five, or even eight, something like that.”
Neither player’s scholarship was revoked, and both were invited to return to the team next season. Instead, Conboy opted to turn pro and sign an AHL deal with Hamilton, farm team of the Montreal Canadiens, who drafted him in the fifth round in 2007.
“He could have sat out the 10 games and been there next year, but I just think he was so upset with the penalty and how he was treated afterward,” Tim Conboy said. “He was just ready to be out of there, and move on. He’s a pro-style player, same as me.”
The younger Conboy practiced with the Bulldogs, but with respect to his college suspension, was not eligible to play until last week. Hamilton and Albany do not play this season, and haven’t met since March 23, 2007.
Andrew Conboy was 3-2-5 with a team-high 76 penalty minutes in 21 games for Michigan State. Last season, he helped Omaha win the USHL’s Clark Cup. He is listed at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, two inches taller and five pounds lighter than his big brother.
“Maybe we’ll meet in the [Calder Cup] finals,” Tim Conboy said. “That’d be fun.”
Sean Avery’s road back to the NHL is winding through Hartford.
The controversial winger joined the Wolf Pack last week after clearing NHL waivers. He was assigned by the Dallas Stars, who do not have an AHL affiliate this season.
None of the AHL teams already with Stars prospects wanted Avery, but Dallas found a taker in Hartford, the New York Rangers’ affiliate. Avery played for the Rangers last season before getting a four-year, $15.5 million deal from the Stars.
“Sean was a good player for the Rangers during his time here, and has worked extremely hard off the ice over the last two months,” Rangers general manager Glen Sather said. “Sean and the Dallas Stars approached me looking for an American Hockey League team for him to resume playing, and I am happy to provide him with the opportunity to continue his career.”
Avery remains property of the Stars, who have no desire to bring him back. He was suspended by the NHL for remarks about other players dating his ex-girlfriends.
“I would like to thank Glen Sather and the Rangers organization for giving me the chance to resume my hockey career,” Avery said. “I am looking forward to getting back on the ice, working my way back to the NHL and playing the game I love.”
Avery’s last AHL stint came with three playoff games for Manchester in 2002-03. His last regular-season appearance was earlier that season for Grand Rapids.
The Edmonton Oilers fired first-year Springfield head coach Jeff Truitt last week, and replaced him with former Houston coach Rob Daum.
A former Falcons assistant, Truitt was given the head job to start the season. At the time of the move, Springfield was last in the Eastern Conference with a 16-27-6-1 record and 39 points, 17 points out of a playoff spot.
It is the first in-season coaching change for a Springfield AHL team since the 1978-79 Indians, when Ted Harris was fired and replaced by Peter Stemkowski.
Assistant coaches Gerry Fleming and David Bell ran practice until the arrival of Daum, who had been working as an Oilers pro scout.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
More than half the season passed before Hartford named Greg Moore only the fourth captain in the team’s 12-year history.
Players had rotated wearing the alternate’s ‘A’ before the installation of Moore, a third-year pro who succeeds Andrew Hutchinson.
“It went on a lot longer than we planned,” head coach Ken Gernander told NHL.com. “You want the guys to know one another, and see who emerges as a leader. It wasn’t like we didn’t have leadership. But there are times when it’s important to have a captain, have a message come from the top.”
Gernander captained the Wolf Pack from 1997-2005. Craig Weller served from 2005-07.
New Jersey goaltender Scott Clemmensen made 27 saves last week to blank the Rangers, 3-0, for his third career NHL shutout and first since March 26, 2004, vs. Atlanta.
In that game, Zach Parise scored two goals, his 31st and 32nd, matching his career high set in 81 games last season. Parise was 32-31-63 and plus-22 in 54 games.
Defenseman Josef Melichar cleared re-entry waivers last week and was recalled by the Tampa Bay Lightning, who acquired him from the Carolina Hurricanes Feb. 7. He made his Bolts debut last week vs. Toronto, his first NHL game since Dec. 4.
Also part of the Carolina-to-Tampa deal, forward Wade Brookbank cleared waivers and was assigned to Norfolk, just in time for a four-game road swing to Hershey, Bridgeport and Binghamton. Brookbank had been in the NHL since Dec. 28, 2007.
Jeff Hamilton took over the Chicago Wolves’ scoring lead with 44 points (12-32) in 40 games. He was a minus-6, with 28 points (9-19) coming on the power play.
Iowa returned former RPI standout Kirk MacDonald to ECHL Reading last week. MacDonald played six games for the Chops, with one goal and four penalty minutes.
Defenseman Brett Peterson signed a pro tryout last week with Grand Rapids, going scoreless and minus-1 in two games. He was 3-12-15 and plus-7 in 39 games for ECHL Phoenix.
The Toronto Marlies signed defenseman Josh Engel to a PTO last week. Engel spent most of this season with ECHL Gwinnett, but also saw four games with the Providence Bruins.
Left wing Mike Sgroi played for his fifth team in two leagues this season when he dressed for Binghamton’s game with Hamilton last weekend. Sgroi has been with Johnstown, Utah and Elmira in the ECHL and Syracuse in the AHL.
“We really shot ourselves in the foot. This was bad, like Plaxico Burress shooting himself bad. We cannot lose games like this.” -- Norfolk captain Zenon Konopka, to the Daily Press, after a third-period collapse in a 3-2 loss to Bridgeport.
AROUND THE BOARDS
-- A head injury from a hard hit Feb. 7 in Springfield kept South Glens Falls native Shawn Weller off the ice for part of last week, but he returned to the lineup by the weekend. …
-- Wilkes-Barre goalie John Curry went 3-0 with a 1.30 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage with one shutout to be named player of the week. Albany nominated defenseman Mark Flood (1-1-2, even, one game). …
-- Darren Haydar had the lone goal in Grand Rapids’ 4-1 loss to Lake Erie Feb. 7, becoming the 73rd player to reach 500 career AHL points. He had 188 goals and 312 assists in 467 games for the Griffins, Milwaukee and Chicago. …
-- Riku Helenius, Tampa Bay’s first-round draft pick in 2006, pitched a 41-save shutout for Norfolk in his first career AHL start vs. Bridgeport. …
-- Hershey enforcer Kip Brennan made a cameo appearance on “Sober House,” a reality series on the VH1 network featuring celebrities dealing with addictions. At a party at his California home last summer, Brennan invited model Amber Smith, who is part of the show.