SUN Hockey Pool

Fleury 'yappy, but he works hard,' says Conroy

SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:17 PM ET

Offering very different perspectives of their previous experiences with Theoren Fleury are Jarome Iginla and Craig Conroy.

"I hated him," said Conroy. "Really.

"He's kind of yappy, but he works hard. He's in your face. It's always about winning, and he competes hard.

"He probably said some stuff to me."

Out of the league for six years, Fleury is attempting his comeback with the Flames at the age of 41. Conroy, at 38, is no longer the oldest at training camp. It eases the formerly harsh feelings.

Iginla never had anything but warm regards for his former -- and possibly future -- teammate.

"I played with him right when I came in, got to see his talent up close and how good he is," said Iginla, who played his first three seasons with Fleury before snatching his franchise records in goals and points.

"Not many people are more talented than he is."

Is he still talented is what players and fans are all wondering.

Skating with Flames at the Westside Recreation Centre for a few months, Fleury has made an impression.

"He can still score goals if Westside is any indication," Conroy said. "He's working hard. He came in in great shape."

And the players were probably as sceptical when the 5-foot-6 winger started scrimmaging with them then as so many hockey fans are now.

"When I heard the news, I didn't really know what to expect," Iginla said.

"I thought he looked great. His hands looked like he's never missed a beat."

Defenceman Robyn Regehr is among those curious to see what kind of strides Fleury can take during the next few days.

"His skill has never left him," Regehr said. "He might be a little bit rusty because he hasn't played at the level that he's gonna be used to in this camp here and the exhibition games. But when a guy has that skill, it's always gonna be there -- it's just a matter of getting up to speed."

If he does, he'll be a welcome addition.

"I don't think we have a No. 14. Did we have a No. 14 last year?" said Regehr, with a grin. "I don't think so.

"There's room for him."

One of the biggest challenges may be adapting to the rules that would at first glance seem to play in Fleury's favour.

"He's gonna want to hook a little bit," said Conroy, who has had a tough time adjusting to that part of the game himself. "He's gonna want to grab a hold of someone as they go by. That's gonna be one hard thing for him to not to want to get his stick on someone."

Conroy is speaking from experience over at Westside, where other Flames who haven't been introduced previously have had a chance to mingle with the franchise's former face.

"I met him a few weeks ago," Olli Jokinen said. "Hopefully, he can make the team. That would be pretty amazing, a guy like him coming back and seeing the smile on his face. He looked good on the ice -- I think he's gonna surprise a lot of people."


Videos

Photos