THEO FLEURY: NCFOM III

I loved watching Theoren Fleury play in the NHL in his prime, but that prime was a long time ago and that’s why I’m hoping he regains his senses and forgets about trying to make a comeback.

And, before fans of the Edmonton Oilers get into a lather about what it might be like to see Fleury in Oilers silks — the same people who dream about Jaromir Jagr caning his way to the front of the net or Mat Sundin gumming the water bottle on the bench — simply this: just say no.

Having known Fleury since he played in Moose Jaw of the WHL, there’s not much doubt in my mind he’s one of the most talented and toughest little men to ever play the game.

At five-foot-six and 180 pounds, Fleury was a stubborn little cuss who beat ridiculous odds to play 1,084 games in the NHL, amassing 455 goals and 633 assists for 1,088 points. He seldom, if ever, took a backwards step in a game where he was outsized by every opponent.

He played the same way in The Jaw, where he was closer to 165 pounds soaking wet. Theo had 235 penalty minutes in his final season with Moose Jaw. And, oh yes, 160 points.

But those days. like his last NHL game — during 2002-03 with the Chicago Blackhawks — was a long time ago. Theo’s 41 years old now and skating in Calgary in the hope somebody is willing to take a chance on him.

Like the Oilers.

THAT WAS THEN . . .

I can hear fans now . . . “Wouldn’t Theo look good with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky” . . . “I bet he can still play.” . . . “If Pat Quinn moved him from right wing to the left side, think of it.” . . . “What’s to lose?”

I get the sentiment, but sentiment has nothing to do with making smart hockey decisions and the thought of the Oilers inviting Fleury to training camp doesn’t strike me as smart.

Even if there’s somebody out there willing to give Fleury a chance, he’ll have to be reinstated by the NHL, which has suspended him indefinitely for substance abuse, and the NHLPA. According to TSN, Fleury has already written a letter to commissioner Gary Bettman informing him of his comeback plans.

I haven’t talked to Theo since he was here with the New York Rangers in 2001-02, but word is he’s been clean and sober for four years now. Given his past battles with the bottle, that’s very good news indeed. After the last time we talked, I wasn’t so sure he could get straight and stay straight. I’m happy to be wrong. Good for him.

LETTING GO

I’m not exactly sure why Theo wants to come back, aside from the obvious — Fleury has spent almost his entire life being identified as a hockey player and he misses the game and the built-in family that comes with it.

Barring horrendous investment problems like Sergei Fedorov is dealing with, Fleury has made all the money he’ll ever need. He started a concrete business in Calgary and, up until now, has been getting his puck fix in the senior circuit. So, why a comeback now?

I’m sure somebody will ask soon enough now that word of his comeback plans is out there. I know I will when I get the chance. One thing I know, it’s not my place to tell him it’s a silly tangent to be considering a comeback at this point in his life after six years out of The Show. I trust, though, NHL teams, like the Oilers, feel the same way.

And that Theo will get the message.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.

  • oilfan_79

    From what I have heard Theo is not happy with the way he left the NHL, it wasn't on his terms. Also, he is not looking to get signed with anyone right now, but for an invitation to a training camp or two, which he hopes can lead to a contract. He is not expecting a big contract.

    All the power to him. I would not be opposed to see the Oilers give him an invite to training camp to see what he could offer, but I am really do not think that he would be able to offer much to any team in the NHL right now.

  • Hamburgler

    I know it's august but what the hell? Theoren Fleury? Has it really come down to people talking about guys who have been retired for years and coming back? Is this professional wrestling…..wake me in October.

  • David S

    typol99 wrote:

    wtf r u talking about….go smoke ur weed ya fahking fall down..u dont no shi*t bout hky boy@ Harlie:

    Looks like the return of the Icy Hot Stuntaz…

    hxxp://yarp.yaxs.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/icy-hot-stuntaz2.jpg

  • Joey Moss

    i hope the come back doesn't cut into his paving business…

    hxxp://completelyhammered.blogspot.com/2007/11/gameday-vancouver.html

    hxxp://www.fleurysconcrete.com/process/

  • Travis Dakin

    Robin Brownlee wrote:

    I’m not a “kids these days” fossil because I just have to look through an old photo album to see Kiss boots, heinous big hair and jeans so tight you can see the veins in your balls.

    Daddy?

  • Woodguy

    "Barring horrendous investment problems like Sergei Fedorov is dealing with, Fleury has made all the money he’ll ever need. He started a concrete business in Calgary and, up until now, has been getting his puck fix in the senior circuit. So, why a comeback now?"

    Robin,

    James Mirtle reports that he is broke, and that is his prime motivation for the return.

    Don't know if I can post links here, but here it is:

    http://www.fromtherink.com/2009/8/8/981803/the-unfortunate-truth-behind

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    let him try/do what he wants. you live once. if he wants to take a tear at the NHL again, go for it. its better than being a Crap Butt drunk (brutal curse) – if hes supposedly sober. if he doesnt make it, thats fine too. i could care less if he makes it or not but the media slagging him for trying is just cheesy. especially when from here to CHED you have apologists for some of the most gutless players in the league on the Oilers. "weeeep for Dustin. he never got the right chance with Craptavish. and poor Grebeshkov, he was never taught when to shoot :`( … is that a bruise on the Oilers butt? ill kiss it until the season starts and then turn VIOLENTLY Jekyll and Hyde on them looking to castrate everyone in the organization."

    FART

  • Robin Brownlee

    @ Death Metal Nightmare:
    Haven't read or heard anybody slagging Theo for wanting to give a comeback a try. Suggesting it's destined to fail is a logical conclusion, no?

    As for Penner, if he had Theo's personality and desire to compete. the Oilers would have something, wouldn't they?

  • Milli

    One of the best interviews ever. Theo on sports rage talking about how the game has softened. Telling stories about the battles in the 80's. I hated him so much back then, but he was a one of a kind player, and I'd love to see him sucseed.

  • David S

    At the end of the day, we'd all like to see an old guy come back from obscurity and do something special because that same dream is in every one of us.

    But Theo isn't Roy Hobbes.

    hxxp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZR_FYKPAAQ

  • Harlie

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    Harlie wrote:
    99 + 9 equals 27

    It equals 108 actually…but if you divide 108 by four you get 27….

    haha I meant 9+9+9…but whatever…you got the drift.

  • Harlie

    Woodguy wrote:

    Don’t know if I can post links here, but here it is:
    http://www.fromtherink.com/2009/8/8/981803/the-unfortunate-truth-behind

    That reminds me of the that 30 second spot on the Team which mentions the average Professional Sports player and how after 4-6 years the majority of them are broke.

    On another note, motivation is driven from many sources, some may say that pride is the number one. For the very best of the best that is probably true, for the rest it's all about the Benjamins. Looks like Fleury has more than just pride to work for. Good luck to him but in my opinion he doesn't have a hope.

  • Robin Brownlee

    @ Woodguy:
    Good stuff.
    It looks like a measure of speculation about Theo being broke, but the numbers attached to his assets and income in the last few years don't look very good.
    Trying a comeback that's destined to fail because you miss the game is one thing, but trying to turn back time because you need a pay cheque after going through $40 million is truly said.
    If that's the case, he's not the first and he won't be the last. Seen it 100 times.

  • Colin

    Robin Brownlee wrote:

    @ Woodguy:
    Good stuff.
    It looks like a measure of speculation about Theo being broke, but the numbers attached to his assets and income in the last few years don’t look very good.
    Trying a comeback that’s destined to fail because you miss the game is one thing, but trying to turn back time because you need a pay cheque after going through $40 million is truly said.
    If that’s the case, he’s not the first and he won’t be the last. Seen it 100 times.

    You'd think the NHLPA would have some sort of "lesson" about money management. After all coming into the bigs at 18-24 and all of the sudden getting a 500K+ payday is a vast change to most of these players. Easy to see how you could get carried away living it up…….

  • Woodguy

    Its a damn shame, and the NHLPA (as well as the other players' associations/unions in the major sports), seem to do a poor job giving good direction of what these athletes should do with their windfall salaries.

    Shady private investment companies see these guys as fat fish for the taking.

    You're right Robin, its sad.

  • Librarian Mike

    Colin wrote:

    You’d think the NHLPA would have some sort of “lesson” about money management. After all coming into the bigs at 18-24 and all of the sudden getting a 500K+ payday is a vast change to most of these players. Easy to see how you could get carried away living it up…….

    Apparently the NBA holds a mandatory camp for rookies, where they try to teach players about how to manage money and how to not totally destroy themselves with the lifestyle change.

    Perhaps something like this would benefit NHL players.

  • Craig

    It seems to me that now in today's NHL, you need the few highly paid superstars but just as importantly, you need the younger skilled players who outperform their contracts at the bottom end. Just a competent body to do a decent job at a low salary.

    Could there not be a market for guys like Fleury who can fill that bottom end with low contracts while providing some experience and allowing the big guys to catch their breath on the bench? While squeezing a few extra years out of their careers. Most have earned that option, if they so choose.

    In all honesty, I'd rather watch a Theoron Fleury round up a bottom line than a Brodziak or Strudwick. Develop the young guys worth developing and replace the bottom fodder with some oldtimers who still have gas in the tank.

  • Ogden Brother

    Craig wrote:

    It seems to me that now in today’s NHL, you need the few highly paid superstars but just as importantly, you need the younger skilled players who outperform their contracts at the bottom end. Just a competent body to do a decent job at a low salary.
    Could there not be a market for guys like Fleury who can fill that bottom end with low contracts while providing some experience and allowing the big guys to catch their breath on the bench? While squeezing a few extra years out of their careers. Most have earned that option, if they so choose.
    In all honesty, I’d rather watch a Theoron Fleury round up a bottom line than a Brodziak or Strudwick. Develop the young guys worth developing and replace the bottom fodder with some oldtimers who still have gas in the tank.

    Watching Claude Lemieux, Chris Chelios and Gary Roberts this past year shows it will take a (very) special player to even fill a minor role past 40.

  • Robin Brownlee

    Ogden Brother wrote:

    Watching Claude Lemieux, Chris Chelios and Gary Roberts this past year shows it will take a (very) special player to even fill a minor role past 40.

    And Chelios and Roberts weren't six seasons removed from the NHL either. The time away is almost as important as the age. Senior hockey, even very competitive senior hockey, isn't a substitute when you've been out as long as Theo has.

  • RobFormerlyInALab

    It may just be that my homer-vision played tricks on me, but I swear that back in the day I saw, on numerous occasion, Fleury dash into the frey only to throw a punch with a gloved hand and then quickly skate behind some of the bigger Flames players. I never respected that, regardless the talent he may have had in putting up points.

  • Robin Brownlee

    @ RobFormerlyInALab:
    I can't imagine why Theo wouldn't square-off with players anywhere from six to 10 inches taller and 20-40 pounds heavier than him.

    Of course he picked his spots, but if he had been an Oiler you'd be singing his praises as a hard-nosed agitator who could also get you 35-50 goals. Pretty partisan memory on your part.