Fleury doesn’t care what you think about his comeback bid

Here’s what Theoren Fleury said to the Calgary Herald‘s George Johnson on Friday night about the expected public reaction to Fleury’s attempted NHL comeback:

“I honestly don’t give a shit what people think of me. I don’t. People say I should get a life? Hey, worry about your own lives. This is mine. When you’ve gone through the 12 stages of Alcoholics Anoymous, you realize that you’ve got to be OK with yourself. I am. I’ve come to the realization that 50 per cent of the people like me, and 50 per cent don’t. Guess what? I’m hanging out with the 50 per cent who do.

“I’m a busy guy. I’m not doing this because I have nothing else in my life. I do public speaking. I work with Native people. With the Dream Centre. I’m doing this partly because I didn’t go out the way I wanted to. And partly because I’ve watched this for five years and believe in my heart that there’s still a place for me.”

Let’s face it, it’s so easy to casually dismiss Theoren Fleury and anything his name is attached to.

Let’s face it, the undersized and overactive Fleury is this close to being a Warner Brothers cartoon character on the order of Elmer Fudd, Speedy Gonzalez and Pepe Le Pew.

Fleury hasn’t played a National Hockey League game in more than four years and yet his name has never strayed very far from the headlines, usually involving stories that have everyone wondering: “Geez, what will that little runt do next?”

From his senior hockey adventures with the Horse Lake Thunder — a stint that inspired the following modest quote, complete with third-person reference:

“The only reason this (Allan Cup) tournament sold out was because of yours truly right here. We all know it and I’m going to say it: Once again Theo Fleury puts hockey on the map when it needs it the most” — to his overseas work with the Belfast Giants to his cameo stint with the Calgary Vipers, an independent minor-league baseball team, to a speculated reality TV show based on his fledgling concrete flooring company to his recent announcement that he’s contemplating an NHL comeback at age 41, much of Fleury’s life has that whiff of ripe Saturday Night Live scripts. Hell, Fleury’s infamous scrape with San Jose mascot SJ Sharkie pretty much was one of the classic SNL Land Shark skits, wasn’t it?

What’s more, Fleury’s troubled past makes it easy for people who have never met the little man to assume an air of smug superiority and join in the “Sideshow Theo” namecalling. If there’s one reason to refrain from piling on, it’s the opinions you get about Fleury from the people who knew him best. Just talk to anyone who knew him from the old days in Calgary, whether it’s Terry Crisp, his old coach; Cliff Fletcher, the man who drafted Fleury against the wishes of his scouting staff; Flames broadcaster Peter Maher or former teammates.

Oh sure, they shook their heads at his attention-seeking antics and expressed disappointment that Fleury too often and too spectacularly strayed from the straight and narrow, but listen to them closely and the genuine fondness they have for the little dude is unmistakable. One veteran Calgary writer, who takes pride in being a curmudgeon and is quick to point out the arrogant jerks and phonies in the sport, unabashedly admits he likes Fleury.

A couple of years ago, Fleury made a rare appearance at the Saddledome and even though he was the smallest man in the lobby outside the Flames dressing room, the former No. 14 was the centre of attention. The ensuing informal monologue was typical Fleury. Today’s game isn’t nearly as good as when he played, said Fleury. He claimed not to remember the last time he had skated. In short (no pun intended) Fleury insisted that he didn’t need the game and that he didn’t miss it a lick. He even went so far as to proclaim he hated hockey.

Moments after making his exit from the room, one of the bemused listeners remarked: “That’s funny, I saw Theo playing a pickup game at the community arena a couple of nights ago.” A nice act maybe, but Fleury wasn’t fooling anyone, probably not even himself. Sure enough, within a few months, word came down that Fleury was heading to Northern Ireland to chase pucks once again. Now he wants to do it in the NHL again.

Fleury’s comeback bid may be implausible. It may be impractical. Given his age and his still-unresolved disciplinary matters with the league, it may even be a few tiny degrees shy of impossible.

But in a week that many fans and even more media members are bemoaning the retirement of the colourful and quotable Jeremy Roenick, the possible second coming of Fleury isn’t such a bad thing, is it? The guy has already proven hundreds of scouts wrong by having a 455-goal, 1,088-point career. And while the claims that he’s been clean and sober for the past four years will be greeted with the expected amount of skepticism, Fleury has also proven wrong any of the doomsayers who predicted Fleury would be found lying in a ditch or in a dark alley soon after his separation from the security blanket that was his professional career. After spending time with people who know Fleury and continued to support him and wish him well despite all the dark clouds that always seemed to follow him and all the second chances he frittered away, it’s hard not to root for one more in-your-face chapter.

As ex-Flame Perry Berezan told the Herald: “Certainly, I’m going to root for him. I think most people will. You always want to see an underdog do well.”

  • Hippy

    well the flamers do need a goal scorer! hahahahahaha.
    oh and btw, the "white man" forced booze upon you? really? Cmon man! stop the nonsense and look at the statistics that come off of your reserves. the choice is strictly yours, not the white mans! and hey, if theo can do it…DON'T BLAME OTHERS!

  • Hippy

    @ Shaun Waskahat:

    dude that argument is a hundred years old. Time for a new stance.

    @ Sandra:

    grow up and leave the stereotypes out of this. Sheldon Souray is one hell of a human being, a star on the ice and he happens to be Metis.

  • Hippy

    @ Shaun Waskahat:

    I agree with you 100% that there is and has been shameful prejudice against Aboriginal People in Canada. It's the dark and dirty secret of our culture that we should remind ourselves of when we tout our superiority over other cultures.

    That being said, I think that saying it's Whitey's fault that Fleury has a substance problem does him a disservice. Addicts who can't get past blaming others for their situations are the ones who never get clean.

  • Hippy

    Shaun Waskahat wrote:

    I sence there is a lot of prejudice against the native people. It is the white man that has introduced them to most of thier problems, mostly alcohol. Why can’t you people leave us alone. We will make it in anything we do. The Native people have the drive to succeed, and fight the demons of the white man.
    Shaun Waskahat
    Big Stone.

    AHHHh Another blame the white man for your problems. I have native friends some that have gone far and made a life for them selfs, but that is not the norm. Mostly it is self distruction, lazyness and blaming what happened to you 100 years ago. The native people would have been better off with out the outrages treaties and learned to live life like the rest of us, work hard and good things will happen. Not fill this form out and bam life is handed to you. What you put into life is what you get out of it. I hope for hockeys sake Theo the side show fleury does not make it past tieing up his laces.

  • Hippy

    I'm in the 50% that thinks hes a dick. So would the management of the Flames i assume. He has been telling people Sutter called and asked him to play for the Bentley General's last year, when in fact it was the opposite. Who gets in a he said/ he said with a Sutter?

    The only time i would buy a shooter for Theo, is if he was already on fire.

  • Hippy

    I hope to see Theo in a Flames jersey, I would laugh my ass off and because of salary constraints he would be a cheap possibility. Then we can all debate whether playing short 3 forwards or playing with Theo is worse.

  • Hippy

    Shaun Waskahat wrote:

    I sence there is a lot of prejudice against the native people. It is the white man that has introduced them to most of thier problems, mostly alcohol. Why can’t you people leave us alone. We will make it in anything we do. The Native people have the drive to succeed, and fight the demons of the white man.

    Nice try at sidetracking the conversation to your own benefit.

  • Hippy

    Shaun Waskahat wrote:

    The Native people have the drive to succeed, and fight the demons of the white man.

    Not the place for the Great Native Debate. So lets just leave it where it is before people start arguing the opposite side of that argument and use logic and past history against you.

  • Hippy

    @ Shaun Waskahat:
    What? You have got to be kidding..

    Where is this prejudice you speak of? Most everyone on here says that they hope Theo well but the odds of him making it are severely steep.

  • Hippy

    I sence there is a lot of prejudice against the native people. It is the white man that has introduced them to most of thier problems, mostly alcohol. Why can't you people leave us alone. We will make it in anything we do. The Native people have the drive to succeed, and fight the demons of the white man.

    Shaun Waskahat
    Big Stone.

  • Hippy

    Theo's been my favourite player since his rookie year. It broke my heart to see him leave Calgary and it hurt even worse to see him have to leave the league the way he did.

    I'd love to see him try a comeback. IF there's one guy determined enough to do it, it's Fleury.

  • Hippy

    @ Sandra:
    If he manages a comeback it will have everything to do with Tenacity, Hard Work and Talent, and nothing to do with his ethnicity.

    If you want to suggest that his ethnicity dictates his return then it opens up the argument that it dictated his exit, and that isnt right.