Making a Case for Theo Fleury

We posted a quick poll on this site regarding Theo Fleury's attempted comeback, and honestly I was quite surprised with some of the responses. To my own discredit, I assumed perhaps that fans would be more one-dimensional. I figured that quickly people would dismiss his attempts ala Claude Lemieux and move on -- but they aren't.

Fleury who hasn't played an NHL game in six years, wants to retire the right way. He says it's important that he do what he can to leave the NHL under circumstances different that he sits right now. After being indefinitely supsended for substance abuse related issues, Fleury would have to first get approval from the NHL to lift the ban, then find a team to give him another shot. I for one, think they should. Even more so, as a fan, it would be something to see that happen in Edmonton.

If we're in an NHL where players like Heatley, Kane, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Phoenix Coyotes ownership and others can give the sport and the organiztional structure of the NHL a terrible rep (which they are), a guy like Fleury who at one time had a problem, but since has committed himself to being clean and taken the time to get himself into what he considers NHL shape, the NHL should at least give Fleury a poke at it. Who cares if the real reason might have more to do with money than his so called "legacy".

When Fleury played he defied odds. He was an amazingly gritty and skilled winger for a small, stocky runt who no one expected to amount to much in professional hockey. On occasion Fleury was or was close to a 100 point player. Of course that was 15 years ago. And while it's not the same at all, from what I understand, Fleury still has wheels.

I've got a brother-in-law, who is a professional firefighter and at one point, a very very good hockey player. Every year he plays and organizes a tournament where ex NHL players for charity raise money playing the firemen in their county. When I asked who still had it, without hesitation, he said "Theo Fleury is rediculously fast!"

I'm not suggesting we compare this tourney to the NHL or anything close, but this example isn't the only place Fleury's been playing. Despite his public statements that he hasn't played in years, it sounds as though Fleurys passion (something he was known for) hasn't waivered as he plays in almost any organized game he can. Is it NHL caliber? Of course not, but we're not asking a team to give him a contract. We're asking a team to give him a tryout and then a contract only if he proves he can play at the NHL level.

We did so for Anson Carter who wasn't even close to the caliber player Fleury was. Could the Oil do it again? One thing we know, is that Fleury who just recently said if he's allowed to play, he'll play anywhere, would love Edmonton for giving him his shot and give everything he has to the Oilers. A determined Theo Fleury might be an interesting but pleasant surprise and a Daryl Katz, who lived the glory days of the Oilers as a fan, was probably a fan when Fleury was in his prime.

I'd go to a pre-season game if I knew I'd get to see Theo give it a shot. Maybe the Oilers have had the same thought, even though any real future from the deal is unlikely.

3 comments:

Hi

Yes - I think any chance to have a second chance is a good thing. There is more to sports than entertainment, or maybe there isn't?

If there isn't more to sport than fan entertainment - if humans aren't involved, then how close are we to the real Gladiator games in Rome? Bring in some hungry lions and innocent victims - and let the Games begin.

Jim
August 12, 2009 at 7:26 AM comment-delete

I have no desire to see him as an Oiler. He's been out of the game too long, he's old and won't have an impact. Let some other team take him on....but not with the Oilers. No way!!

Scarlett
August 12, 2009 at 7:31 AM comment-delete

@ Jim Agreed. Second chances are important. If people didn't get them, everyone would be afraid to make mistakes and I sure know the Oilers have made a few.

@ Scarlett I'm not suggesting he makes the team, but I'm not against giving him a shot at it during training camp with an invite for a tryout. We've got a few kids I'd rather not rush into roster spots and Fleury, if he has anything left in his tank, could actually be a surprise.

If he goes on to make a team roster and get 30 points, would you feel the same way still? Not that I'm suggesting he's going to do so.

August 12, 2009 at 10:22 AM comment-delete

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