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 Fleury’s life story can attest, his path has been anything but peerless.

Which leads to yesterday’s report from TSN’s 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, it’s not as simple as lacing ’em 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 NHL’s substance abuse rehabilitation program to which he was referred when suspended indefinitely by the league in 2003.

Fact is, he hasn’t completed it.

That isn’t to say he hasn’t 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, there’s little doubt he’ll still have to submit to the program before he’s 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 scorer’s attempts are cut short by red tape — it’s simply an obstacle he has to overcome first.

Make no mistake, a successful return to the NHL for Fleury — 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 — would make for a wonderful story.

However, it’s 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 didn’t 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, it’s 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 he’s lost sight of the reality of father time.

Just last year the man who averaged 30 goals a year told the Sun “with 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 — it would be awesome. It’s way too watered down now.”

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

It’s been three years since he played semi-pro in England and he’s 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 we’d all love to see him add one more chapter to a career that has seen him win at almost every level.

However, we don’t live in a perfect world.

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


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