SUN Hockey Pool

Fleury attempting to make a comeback

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:18 PM ET

Theo Fleury is attempting to make a comeback.

In a perfect world, that sentence would be followed by information on a cheeky return to the Calgary Vipers baseball club where his last set of headlines came from.

But as anyone familiar with Fleuryís life story can attest, his path has been anything but peerless.

Which leads to yesterdayís report from TSNís Darren Dreger suggesting the Big Little Man who carved out a brilliant career by never giving up is still apparently clinging to that mantra.

He wants to return to the NHL.

Which is too bad.

While the NHL is indeed in the entertainment game and Theo was one of the most entertaining figures of a hockey generation, itís not as simple as lacing íem up again and hitting the ice with an NHL team in need of a little publicity.

The fact of the matter is Fleury still has major hoops to jump through in an effort to satisfy the NHLís substance abuse rehabilitation program to which he was referred when suspended indefinitely by the league in 2003.

Fact is, he hasnít completed it.

That isnít to say he hasnít turned his life around.

Indeed, by many accounts the 41-year-old mighty mite has been sober for a handful of years now.

However, despite reportedly informing the league of his comeback efforts, thereís little doubt heíll still have to submit to the program before heís even considered for reinstatement.

There may not be enough time for that.

None of this is to suggest anyone is hoping the former 50-goal scorerís attempts are cut short by red tape ó itís simply an obstacle he has to overcome first.

Make no mistake, a successful return to the NHL for Fleury ó as improbable as it is for a 5-foot-6, 41-year-old who has been an out-of-shape, part-time beer-league player the last handful of years ó would make for a wonderful story.

However, itís not going to happen.

While apparently inspired by a conversation he had with Claude Lemieux shortly after the then 43-year-old made his first appearance with the Sharks last season, the reality is the comeback didnít work for Lemieux.

Nor will it pan out for Fleury.

God bless him for following his heart and doing his best to rewrite the ending to a career abruptly shortened by personal demons.

With his concrete coating business recently closing and a stint in financials coming to an end, itís apparent Fleury is unsure where else to turn.

At the end of the day, hockey is what he knows best and what better place to turn to at a time in his life like this.

You can bet everyone around him is supporting his decision to take one last run at the big time.

However, like most athletes, somewhere along the way heís lost sight of the reality of father time.

Just last year the man who averaged 30 goals a year told the Sun ďwith the intensity and the way I competed, I bet I could average 45 now. I could go in front and battle for the puck and not get crosschecked in the back or hacked ó it would be awesome. Itís way too watered down now.Ē

Not watered down enough to allow a 41-year-old who has been out of the league for six years scratch back in.

Itís been three years since he played semi-pro in England and heís since littered his once-busy schedule with a few dozen Senior hockey games in which he surely shone.

The NHL is a different animal.

But then, so is Fleury.

Of course weíd all love to see him add one more chapter to a career that has seen him win at almost every level.

However, we donít live in a perfect world.

Something the embattled Fleury is about to be reminded of yet again.


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