Fleury still faces hurdles

Theo Fleury awaits word from the NHL on whether he can resume his career. (Sun Media/Preston...

Theo Fleury awaits word from the NHL on whether he can resume his career. (Sun Media/Preston Brownschlaigle)

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

When it comes to the possible reinstatement of Theo Fleury, the decision should be a simple one.

Unlike Michael Vick's case where the discretion of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell determined his fate, Fleury's potential future in the NHL is all about satisfying terms of the league's substance abuse rehabilitation program.

As a two-time offender, the steps Fleury must take to satisfy league doctors were spelled out for him years ago.

And while he left the game a bitter man full of contempt for the league and the sport, he initially chose not to follow their multi-step program and give himself a chance at a comeback.

All that changed months ago when the 41-year-old hired a trainer, lost a reported 40 lb. and focused heavily on half-day workouts aimed at getting him back into the league he was kicked out of in 2003.

He's talked to league physicians several times to the point the league was aware of a potential comeback bid well before Fleury's agent informed the league of his desire to be reinstated less than two weeks ago.

Sober for almost four years now, Fleury now awaits word from league doctors and officials on whether they feel he's jumped through all the mandated hoops necessary to even give himself a shot at the most improbable of NHL returns.

If so, he deserves the green light.

If not, the man who repeatedly slagged the league and the state of the game will not -- and should not -- get special dispensation.

Unlike the Vick case where the dog killer not only did his time and satisfied the commissioner by showing remorse, Fleury's situation is cut and dried.

Either he satisfies the league's rehab requirements or his suspension remains indefinite.

Now more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world wondering who Fred Reid is and how he made the Calgary Stampeders defence look like the Calgary Colts in the second half of Saturday's sorry performance against Winnipeg?

AROUND THE HORN

My 20 cents on Patrick Kane: If his case does go to trial, he'll easily beat all charges. His lawyer simply has to summon any number of coaches and teammates who will wholeheartedly testify to the fact they've never seen Kane hit anything in his entire career ... Given the fact JoJuan Armour was let go following a series of on and off-field transgressions, how long until Dwight Anderson suffers a similar fate? It's about time John Hufnagel made an example out of someone to reiterate the fact that until everyone buys into the importance of discipline and respect, the Stamps chances of repeating are zero ... How very selfish of Jeremy Roenick to retire last week without consulting the columnists and beat reporters finding it harder and harder to find interesting characters in sport willing and able of filling our notebooks with intelligent, insightful or entertaining quotes ... Former Hitmen and World Junior stud Justin Pogge will get a chance to save his NHL career thanks to a trade from Toronto to Anaheim to be announced today.

PARTING GIFTS

With the retirement of Roenick came suggestions he's a slam dunk for the Hockey Hall of Fame due to his numbers and contributions to the game. Funny then that no one is beating the drum for Fleury to earn similar accolades. He's got better numbers than ol' J.R. as well as a Stanley Cup ring and Olympic gold. While battling demons throughout a career that also featured endless on-ice meltdowns, Fleury gave plenty of colourful interviews as well as hope for undersized kids around the world. The biggest argument for Roenick's Hall inclusion stems from the fact he's one of the best American players of all time. With that logic, Olaf Kolzig should also be enshrined as he was unquestionably the best African-born goalie.


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