For Theo Fleury, it had to be a surreal moment. Walking through the doors of the Pengrowth Saddledome for training camp on Saturday, Fleury quickly became the centre of attention.
Reporting to his first NHL training camp in seven years, Fleury is attempting a comeback after a considerable absence and could not be more grateful to the Flames for giving him a shot. After starting his career with Calgary and spending 11 seasons with the club, including a Stanley Cup-winning year in 1989, Fleury knows how much this means.
“I’ve done 14 fitness tests with the Calgary Flames and this is the best one I’ve done,” Fleury said after his fitness testing.
Fleury’s last season in the National Hockey League was in 2002-2003 as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. He was suspended indefinitely for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, so he needed to apply before the NHL and NHLPA for reinstatement. After crossing that bridge, Fleury was able to join the Flames at training camp after being invited by the franchise.
It’s a story of second chances and, Fleury and the Flames hope, a story of comebacks.
Fleury skated with members of the Flames and they seemed impressed but realistic about the road Fleury has ahead.
“His skill has never left him,” defenceman Robyn Regehr said. “It might be a bit rusty because he hasn’t played at the level of that he’s going to be used to at this camp and exhibition games. He’s going to have to try to keep up with the guys. Not just the young guys but the older guys and everyone is in very good shape at the camp. That’s going to be something that’s pretty tough.”
With some hard work and effort, Fleury has a decent chance of making the team. If he does, expect him to leave it all on the ice each and every night.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.