Most Caniacs are pretty familiar with Tim Conboy. He is the defenseman/enforcer from Albany who stands up for his teammates and patrols the rink like Judge Dredd, serving immediate justice whenever it's deemed to be necessary. He is the type of player you usually love if he's on your team, but love to hate if he is not. Well, it seems that Conboy has a younger brother who his trying to fill the same role as his older sibling.
Andrew Conboy used to play forward for the Michigan State Spartans, up until an ugly incident in a game against rival Michigan a couple of weeks ago. After a hard hit late in the game by Michigan's Steve Kampfer, Conboy retaliated and knocked down the Michigan defenseman from behind. To make matters worse, the recipient of the original hit, State's Corey Tropp, hit the prone player in the head with his stick afterwards. You can watch the whole episode unfold on You Tube.
Even though Conboy was originally just given a double roughing minor by the ref, the next day he was suspended by MSU coach Rick Comley for the remainder of the season. XM Radio has posted audio of an interview with Comley here. Conboy withdrew from school shortly afterwards.
The Puck Daddy Blog has a good review of the incident and Greg Wyshynski gives his opinion:
First off, saying Conboy went after Kampfer because he "took a run" at Tropp is technically true but patently bogus. His vengeance was brutal and overboard, and he deserves something well beyond a double-minor.
But a season? Sorry, I don't agree. If DiFilippo's making the case that Tropp was remorseful, look at Conboy: it almost appears he shoves Tropp away after Tropp skated in. And let's face it: third-man in with slashes to a guy flat on the ice is far and away the greater offense.
Conboy's no saint. He's a goon who leads the team in penalties and penalty minutes. Maybe he gets the season-long gate because he initiated the incident. I just don't think what he did was on the level of what Tropp did, based on the evidence.
What makes this whole issue even more volitile is that Kampfer had just recuperated from a having fractured skull. His father went in the State lockerroom after the game, apparently looking for Tropp and Conboy. (Kampfer was released from a local hospital the same night and played in Michigan's very next game).
According to this subsequent report, criminal charges will not be pursued against the players. Regardless, Andrew, (a 2007 Montreal draft pick), is contemplating his hockey future and will be meeting with Montreal officials to see what's next.
The youngster was never interviewed, so he has not had the chance to tell his side of the story. Why did he attack Kampfer that way? Did he think it was a dirty hit on his teammate? Did he think it was knee on knee? Did he just snap?
One thing for sure, he has patterned his game to emulate Tim. On the Michigan State player profile page, Andrew had this to say about his older brother.
" He was my hockey influence growing up and taught me everything I know".
Tim was no angel at that age either and was suspended from his St. Cloud State team because of "not following team rules", whatever that means. But the elder Conboy has also matured. While the fierce competitor has been suspended multiple times during his AHL career, he still has a good enough reputation to have been named captain of the River Rats this year. When called up to play for the Canes, he played aggressively, but was always under control.
Those are the key words for young Andrew to learn, "playing under control".
That is what makes the difference between being a useful asset to your team, or a liability. Enforcers can be invaluable teammates because you know they have your back and the other team must watch out for them. But, they also must be able to play within the rules and keep themselves under control.
For athletes who live "on the edge", that can be a difficult thing to do.