Sunday, November 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

'Dream big' drives Lightning's Conacher brothers

BRANDON — Two words: Dream big.

Cory Conacher includes them every time he signs an autograph for a young hockey fan.

"That's the motto I go by," he said after a recent practice.

The Lightning forward, who is on a one-way contract, stands 5 feet 8, nearly half a foot shorter than the average height in the NHL.

But that is just part of his motivation.

Conacher, 27, was born with bladder exstrophy, a condition in which the bladder is outside the body. He was 10 days old when doctors reconstructed his pelvis. His mother, Debbie, was told her little boy might never walk normally.

Conacher had had two more surgeries by the time was 5. His bladder is one-eighth the size of a normal one, which brings about frequent trips to the bathroom.

Then when he was 8, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

"He's a battler. That's his nature," Debbie said. "And always smiling. A pretty special boy."

Cory's younger brother, Shane, 23, is a forward in Lightning camp as a free agent. He, too, dreams big. Shane, who followed Cory to Canisius College, hopes to follow his brother to the NHL.

"He deserves to be at the professional level and deserves at least a chance to play at the NHL level during his career, because he's a good player, a smart player," Cory said of Shane.

This is the first time the two Burlington, Ontario, natives have been on the same team. They have played against each other once, last season in the AHL, when Cory was with Syracuse and Shane was with Toronto. Though Shane played on the fourth line, he was sent out for the opening faceoff so he could line up against his big brother.

"That was a special moment," Shane said.

Cory has played a combined 152 NHL games for four teams over six seasons, including 11 last year with the Lightning. If Shane does reach the NHL, he will continue a Conacher legacy that goes back to the famed Conacher brothers, Charlie, Roy and Lionel. They are distant relatives, cousins of a great-grandfather.

But blood is blood.

Charlie, Roy and Lionel are Hall of Famers. Cory and Shane have skated under Charlie's retired No. 9 that hangs from the rafters of the Maple Leafs' Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

"It's awesome to have that name on the back of my jersey," Cory said. "Hopefully I represent it well. If I could be half the player he was, it would be awesome."

Dream big.

Finding topics for middle school projects was easy, Cory said, when you have three Hall of Fame relatives to write about. Shane was asked about his lineage from time to time last season while playing in Toronto.

Oh, and Charlie and Lionel had sons who played in the NHL, and Roy had a nephew who played in the league as well.

No pressure, though, right?

"No," Shane said. "But it is pretty crazy."

Cory speaks to children born with bladder exstrophy or dealing with diabetes. His message is the same.

"I tell them doctors will say this and that," Cory said. "I'm honored to be able to play at such a high level. I'm able to walk, so I don't have any excuses. I'm not in a wheelchair.

"(Bladder exstrophy is) a severe condition, but at the same time, it doesn't limit me from playing hockey and doing what I love. I tell kids that. It's something you have to take care of, but it won't limit you from fulfilling your dreams."

Just dream big.

Noteworthy: The Lightning made three cuts Thursday, assigning all three players to their junior teams: F Boris Katchouk (Sault St. Marie, OHL), D Cal Foote (Kelowna, WHL) and D Libor Hajek (Saskatoon, WHL).

Comments
Louis Domingue gets a workout in Lightning’s 6-5 overtime win

Louis Domingue gets a workout in Lightning’s 6-5 overtime win

PHILADELPHIA — The Lightning asked a lot of Louis Domingue on Saturday, allowing a season-high 45 shots.For most of the game against the Flyers, the goalie stood up to them, but Philadelphia applied pressure in the second half of the third peri...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Gritty amuses even a mascot skeptic

Gritty amuses even a mascot skeptic

There's a reason people love Gritty, as he showed in the Lightning's game against the Flyers
Updated: 12 hours ago
Lightning’s Adam Erne has first career three-point game against Flyers

Lightning’s Adam Erne has first career three-point game against Flyers

Adam Erne had a goal and two assists to cap a crazy week
Updated: 12 hours ago
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy out four to six weeks with broken foot

Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy out four to six weeks with broken foot

Andrei Vasilevskiy fractured his left foot in practice on Wednesday.
Published: 11/16/18
More superlatives for the Lightning’s Brayden Point

More superlatives for the Lightning’s Brayden Point

Brayden Point scored his first NHL hat trick on Thursday, and he did it in 91 seconds. Here's where it ranked in a few categories:• Sixth-fastest in NHL history (Bill Mosienko, Chicago, 21 seconds)• Second-fastest in the expansion era (De...
Published: 11/16/18
Seven former Lightning goalies make The Hockey News’ list of the top 100 of all-time

Seven former Lightning goalies make The Hockey News’ list of the top 100 of all-time

Not bad for a franchise that only recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Published: 11/16/18
Lightning journal: Brayden Point scores hat trick in 91 seconds in win over Penguins

Lightning journal: Brayden Point scores hat trick in 91 seconds in win over Penguins

Brayden Point 's hat trick is the sixth fastest in NHL history.
Published: 11/15/18
Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy out indefinitely with injury

Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy out indefinitely with injury

With Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy out, Louis Domingue will get the chance for some sustained time in the crease.
Published: 11/15/18
Lightning pre-game: Get to know the Penguins

Lightning pre-game: Get to know the Penguins

Here's what you need to know ahead of the Lightning's matchup against the Penguins.
Published: 11/15/18
NHL taste is a ‘dream come true’ for Lightning’s Erik Cernak

NHL taste is a ‘dream come true’ for Lightning’s Erik Cernak

What does a prospect’s first call up to the NHL look like?
Published: 11/14/18