Posted by: Jennifer | September 12, 2009

the comeback

Theo Fleury was always one of the smallest players in the NHL, and he still managed to accomplish some pretty great things. Even someone who doesn’t follow hockey would probably be in awe of what this man has managed to do with his life.

He scored 455 goals and added 633 assists in over 1,000 career games with the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers and Chicago between 1988 and 2003. He won a Stanley Cup in his rookie season with Calgary and was a member of the Canadian team that won an Olympic gold medal.

What a lot of people didn’t know at the time was that Fleury was pretty much wasted for most of his career. He was an alcoholic, and in 2003 he was suspended from the NHL for violating the league’s substance abuse rules. Now, at the age of 41 and with a couple of years of sobriety under his belt, Fleury’s looking for a second chance. And he just might have it.

In an interview with radio station The Fan 960 on Friday, the 41-year-old former all-star said an NHL team had invited him to training camp and he would arrive on Saturday. While Fleury didn’t identify the team, several media reports said it was the Calgary Flames.

“I’ve basically been doing everything I can to prepare myself for tomorrow,” Fleury told the radio station. “I think the biggest asset I have to bring to an organization is the experience that I have. That’s what they’re getting when they get me tomorrow.”

[…]”At heart I’m a hockey player first and foremost,” Fleury said after one of his recent practices. “Obviously I didn’t go out the way I wanted to.

“I knew something was wrong about 15 years ago. I just didn’t have the tools to be able to deal with life. I started picking up really good tools to get to a point four years ago where I knew I could stop and continue and maintain my recovery and sobriety.”

I was never a big Fleury fan, if for no other reason than he spent most of his career playing for a team that, as a Vancouver Canucks fan, I’m required by law to hate and despise. That said, I wish him luck. He really was a great hockey player and I think it’s wonderful that he’s being given a second chance. I hope to see him facing down with my ‘Nucks sometime this season.

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