Erik Condra's shuttle from Syracuse takes its toll
Wing Erik Condra has been the Lightning's yo-yo this season, getting recalled eight times from AHL Syracuse.
The latest came Thursday, Condra, 30, arriving after midnight in St. Paul, Minn after yet another flight. This time it was on American Airlines.
"Name (the airline), I've flown them," Condra quipped. "Allegiant, Southwest, America. I'm a Delta guy, so I have all the perks."
Condra isn't complaining. He knows he gets paid good money ($1.5 million this season) to play a game he loves. Every callup is exciting, as any day in the NHL is a good day. But it's still been a very trying season, mostly on his family, which remains in Tampa while he's mostly been in Syracuse. The constant shuffling has taken its toll on Condra's two kids, son, Callan, 2 1/2 and daughter Ellery, 10 months.
"They say, 'It's Mommy's house' and 'Daddy's house,'" Condra said. "But what can I do?"
It's tough for Condra to make plans. His dad came to visit him in Syracuse over Christmas, but Condra got called up, so they flew to Tampa together. Same thing happened with his family. "I'm lucky my wife (Ryan) has been a champ," Condra said. "She's been amazing. Without her, I don't think I'd be as sane as I am."
Give Condra credit for handling the situation like a true pro. When Condra was put on waivers after training camp, he was understandably disappointed. He didn't see it coming. But Condra didn't pout, instead tried to be a leader for the Crunch. He played well, too, with 19 points in 26 games.
But Condra still wonders about next season, the final year in his three-year deal with Tampa Bay. He knows the league is going younger, noticing "middle 30 year olds getting pushed out a little bit." But Condra still believes he can play. It's just a matter of where. This year, it's been 29 games in Syracuse, 12 with Tampa Bay.
"The toughest part," Condra says. "Is sometimes you don't feel like you're part of any team."
Except that team waiting at home.