Fleury's Hitmen pick puzzling

Theoren Fleury invested in the Hitmen junior team and hired his alleged abuser as head coach. (Al...

Theoren Fleury invested in the Hitmen junior team and hired his alleged abuser as head coach. (Al Charest/Calgary Sun)

STEVE SIMMONS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:27 AM ET

In 1994, at the height of his success as a National Hockey League star, Theoren Fleury invested in the Calgary Hitmen junior team and hired his alleged abuser as head coach.

Of all that is convoluted, confusing and disturbing about the revelations in Fleury's recently published book -- admissions that many in the hockey world already suspected -- the question of why he would expose Graham James to more teenage boys is both troubling and somewhat revealing.

If anything, it is further alarming commentary on what happens to young athletes, young people, in abusive relationships with controlling coaches. How they lose their sense of themselves. How they lose their ability to think and act independently.

How could Fleury possibly have hired James to coach, knowing what he knew, knowing what had happened to his own life?

When they were together as coach and player, James always would threaten that Fleury couldn't make it without him.

That relationship explains, to a degree, how it is a Mike Danton could go to prison for attempting to arrange the death of his agent, David Frost, and just days later the two can be taped over a jail telephone discussing how it happened and why.

Fleury has written his part: He still has some answering to do, if not only to himself, but to others who may have been hurt by the hiring of James.

This and that

Greedy owners have contributed to the early problems of the Maple Leafs. Not the Leafs owners -- they are greedy enough on their own -- but all NHL owners, who insist on too many pre-season games played which doesn't leave enough time for practice. When you change almost half your roster, the way the Leafs have, you don't get better playing meaningless games, you get better practising ... The poor NHL just can't avoid running into itself. So Phoenix is over for now and the NHLPA is trying to figure things out and the league is looking like a bunch of rubes as a fired referee fights in court to get his job back ... When we look back at this baseball generation, the stars will be rated: 1. Albert Pujols; 2. Derek Jeter ... Funny, the Maple Leafs' so-called tampering of Canucks players is huge news in Vancouver and sidebar stuff in Toronto. If every general manager who leaked a name or two of players available, or in this case broadcast it, is thought to be tampering, the whole league would end up in jail ... If the NHL wants to deal with tampering, why not hammer some of the teams that sign players in the first minutes of free agency?

Hear and there

If you do the math, with Johan Franzen hurt and Marian Hossa, Mikael Samuelsson and Jiri Hudler gone, the Red Wings are missing 114 goals from last season's Stanley Cup final team. Don't think Todd Bertuzzi and Brad May are going to make up the difference ... Department of really dumb decisions and even dumber explanations: Sportsnet Ontario not showing the sudden-death game between the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit (near Ontario) Tigers, which only turned out to be a classic, and then blaming the consumers for not ordering the full package of channels ... Don Cherry loves to scream about Ron Wilson not supporting his players, which is his right, and we love his screaming, but we wonder what Hardy Astrom thinks of all that ... In late February, Dominic Moore turned down a two-year, $3.4-million US offer to stay with the Maple Leafs. In October, Moore signed a one-year $1.1-million offer to sign with the Florida Panthers. Guess he didn't major in math at Harvard ... The more I see of Steven Stamkos' shot, the more I think the Canadian Olympic people have to seriously consider him for a place on the Olympic team in Vancouver.

Scene and heard

I actually saw this in our newspaper and wanted to scream: Someone not paying attention, not old enough or not bothering to do a whole lot of research, rated Mats Sundin ahead of Borje Salming on the list of greatest Swedes to play in the NHL. For the record, Salming was voted to the NHL's first or second all-star team six times. Not once for Sundin ... Doesn't make sense to have the Leafs and Argos playing opposite each other on a Saturday night. We want to watch our last-place teams ... Wonder what Ernie Banks would think about this. The best way to get to the World Series: Hire Eric Hinske. Should the Yankees make it this year, Hinske will be three-for-three in World Series appearances the past three years, on the bench with three different teams ... Josh McDaniels, with the hard-to-figure unbeaten Denver Broncos, is breaking the mould of the Bill Belichick assistants who fail when they become head coaches. On the other hand, we still have Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini to kick around ... Soon the clock will stop ticking and Wade Phillips will be done as coach of the Dallas Cowboys ... Wally Buono is back doing what Wally Buono does: He's winning football games, even in a season in which it looked like he was doomed.

And another thing

Why Roy Halladay had a better season than Zack Greinke: Halladay started nine times against the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, with five complete games. Greinke started just once against the Red Sox and Yankees and he won 16 games to Halladay's 17 ... The weekly update: The Tennessee Titans are 0-4 since Bart Andrus left to coach the Argonauts ... If his name wasn't Chip Caray and he wasn't Harry's grandson there's not a chance he would be doing playoff baseball on national television ... It ain't the cycle, but pitcher Cliff Lee threw a complete game, had a hit and stole a base for the Philadelphia Phillies in their playoff opener against the Colorado Rockies ... What are the odds of this? An American running the Maple Leafs, and a Canadian running the Blue Jays? ... What do Ray Rice and Donald Brown have in common besides beside among the best young running backs in the NFL? Both have played in the International Bowl games at the Rogers Centre ... Four words why the Detroit Tigers didn't clinch the American League Central: The idiot, Miguel Cabrera ... Happy birthday to the great Elmore Leonard (84), the not-so-great Michelle Wie (20), and also to Jason Arnott (35), Steve Young (48) and Artie Lange (42) ... And hey, whatever became of Billy MacMillan?

STEVE.SIMMONS@SUNMEDIA.CA


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