SUN Hockey Pool

Playing waiting game

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

Excited as people may be to catch a glimpse of Theoren Fleury’s first game in Flames silks in a decade, they'll have to wait a little longer.

Tuesday's Battle of Alberta will be without the 5-foot-6 fireplug.

Fleury isn't sure when he may suit up.

“No. No indication at all. I think being out for so long, they want to ease me into this thing — and I think it’s probably wise,” the 41-year-old who recently had a six-year suspension lifted by the NHL said after his second on-ice training camp session with the Calgary Flames.

“The more practices I get, the more comfortable I’ll feel. When it comes around to having that opportunity to play, I’ll be real comfortable at that point.”

Hosting the Edmonton Oilers, the Flames will dress veterans such as Jamie Lundmark, David Moss, Eric Nystrom, and Nigel Dawes.

Fleury, for now, will have to rely on his many memories of the provincial battles.

Skating on a line with Curtis Glencross and Daymond Langkow yesterday in the early time slot, Fleury looked and felt a lot better in his second practice than he did in his first Sunday.

“I think (Sunday) I probably felt my age a little bit after that fitness test,” Fleury said. “But I got good rest, good food last night, and felt really good today.”

Conditioning isn’t a problem. Fleury tested at around 8% body fat and registered an amazing 59 on the VO2 test — one at which Jarome Iginla typically sets that standard with a score in the 60s.

But struggling at times with positioning in head coach Brent Sutter’s drills, Fleury admitted he needed to concentrate on the ice — something Sutter has re-iterated to the oldest rookie on the team.

“With a new coach here, I think we’re all learning a new system. I’m basically starting on par with everybody learning the system. It’s just a matter of concentrating when I’m on the ice,” Fleury said.

“You want to make an impression on the coaching staff, first and foremost. You want to be relied upon in any situation.”

Sutter won’t say when Fleury may dress for a game.

“I’m not putting any goals or gauges on anything, I’m just going to monitor it. Allow him to feel his process through,” Sutter said.

“Someone who’s been out of the game as long as he has, there’s a process and you’ve got to be patient with it.”

Fleury’s next opportunity to dress at the Dome comes Thursday night when the New York Islanders come to town. Even that may be too early to count on Fleury suiting up.

But he doesn’t care whether the debut comes at home or on the road.

“I like playing on the road,” Fleury said with a grin. “Everybody hates me.”

Especially in San Jose, where an alleged attack of the Sharks mascot only added to the disdain Northern Californians have for a man who embarrassed them in the playoffs in 1995.

The Flames don’t play there this preseason, but he got a call yesterday from a former Shark — last year’s comeback story Claude Lemieux.

Throwing his support behind Fleury, who’s two years younger than the four-time Stanley Cup winner, Lemieux suggested Fleury’s finish could be even more spectacular.

“He just said, ‘This game is made for you now. If you’re as fit as you say you are, you should have no problem playing,’” Fleury said.

“Hopefully that’s the way it will be.”


Videos

Photos