Theo makes concrete plans

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

Standing in the middle of his 3,000-sq.-ft. warehouse wearing dust-covered jeans and work boots, it's clear Theo Fleury's passion lies far from the rinks in which he once dominated.

Almost four years removed from a controversial 15-year NHL career that ended with a suspension for violating terms of the NHL's substance-abuse program, the 38-year-old winger is no longer talking comeback.

Instead, he spends his days talking about acrylic spray and rock stamps as owner of Fleury's Concrete Coatings.

"I don't miss hockey at all," said Fleury, whose last three teams have been the Horse Lake Thunder, Belfast Giants and a Calgary summer- league squad.

"I haven't really thought about it a whole lot. I've just been having fun with this."

This is a family business he started with new wife Jennifer and brother Travis after reading Entrepreneur magazine on his honeymoon this summer.

Instead of lamenting the manual labour and 16-hour days, Fleury insists he's never been happier.

"I look at the game now and it's really changed," said the former Flames captain and all-time leading scorer, who refuses to officially announce his retirement.

"Do I want to pay the price of what it takes to get back to that level again? I'm not any younger.

"This (pointing to his head) is fine -- never been better. But this (pointing to his torso), I don't know."

Sober for almost 18 months, Fleury has no intention of sidelining his new career to satisfy the NHL's rehab requirements necessary for reinstatement.

"I've improved the quality of my life incredibly the last couple years because if I was still doing what I was doing, this wouldn't be possible," said Fleury of his business venture. "I can never have another drink of alcohol again -- I'm an alcoholic. It's as simple as that."

Although the NHL is now better suited to smaller, faster players, the 5-ft. 6-in. agitator is disgusted by the sanitized version of the game.

"I don't see the game as being fun -- you don't have to get your nose dirty any more," said Fleury.

"You can't be a (jerk) on the ice because there are two officials and 12 guys in Toronto watching every move you make. For a guy like me, I needed that aspect of my game to be effective. The craziness, the intimidation, the unpredictability -- there's no more of that in the game. They've taken personality right out."

Despite winning a Stanley Cup here in 1989 and Olympic gold in 2002, Fleury insists the highlight of his career was playing the game he loved for so long.

"I do wish my career ended better but for the people who support me, they'd want to know I'm doing well -- that's the most important thing to me," said Fleury, who scored 455 goals in 1,084 games.

"I know I was a great player, probably one of the top-10 guys that ever played the game. Creative. Electrifying. All that stuff. Yeah, I could have worked harder but I was extremely talented. If I had taken care of myself, I probably could have been better.

"All I know is that I got to play 15 years, I've got six rings, I played on championship teams and I played with the greatest players in the game who all respect me.

"When I played on those Canadian teams, I did it without ego and accepted my role because I knew it was a chance to win. That's what it's all about -- being part of something that's a winner. And that's what we're trying to do here. We want to be the best -- our goal is to be on the cover of Architectural Digest."

Different goals, indeed, but the same drive as always.


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