Friday, April 18th, 2014

No Favour for Fleury

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James Mirtle provides a list of former NHL players trying out at training camps around the league. The headliner is, of course Theo Fleury in Calgary. As Mirtle indicates, few have much of a chance to extend their careers.

Let’s face it – these players are for the most part nothing more than cannon fodder, bodies designed to help the team make a few extra dollars with a pre-season so grueling it is crazy. The league deserves criticism for the exhibition season and the practice of bringing in warm bodies to stick in NHL uniforms for pretend games. (Like they really played an NHL game in Terrace last night.)

I assume, however, that guys like Dave Scatchard, Mark Parrish and Ronald Petrovicky know the score. They are being exploited, but they know it and its their choice. If about six guys get badly hurt in the next couple of weeks, one of them might win a temporary job. It is the fans, not the players on a tryout who are getting ripped off.

All that said, I wish the Calgary Flames had chosen not to let Theo Fleury back in an NHL camp. I don’t think it can possibly end well for him. I’m really happy that he has apparently managed to get his demons under control, but those demons have not gone away. What Fleury surely needs are more small victories off the ice. He does not need to pour his heart into the longest of a longshot. Even if he manages to beat the nearly impossible odds and makes the team, he re-enters an environment that involves immense pressure and constant temptations. It cannot be good for him.

He’s a tough little hockey player – one of my all time favourite opponents – but he is not an emotionally healthy person. I can see how this is a feel good story for the Flames and for the fans, but I don’t think it will work out to be a feel good story for Theo Fleury. I wish the Flames had passed.

I also hope Theo proves me wrong.

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Comments

4 Responses to “No Favour for Fleury”
  1. Brian Wawryshyn says:

    I hope he proves you wrong as well. I don’t what it is, but after seeing him in interviews I really think he’s made some positive changes in his life. I hope however this turns out that doesn’t change.

    As for the rest of the training camp fodder out there, you’re right the fans are getting ripped off. Forcing your season ticket holders to buy exhibition tickets when you’re dressing skeleton lineups is just plain bad. But these players aren’t only auditioning for the Canucks, they’re also hoping to have a good camp and get noticed by a team that may not have the depth the Canucks have.

    I can’t blame a guy for trying to keep the money coming in for another year or so…better than regretting it later.

  2. Tom says:

    I hope he proves you wrong as well. I don’t what it is, but after seeing him in interviews I really think he’s made some positive changes in his life. I hope however this turns out that doesn’t change.

    I think he has made positive changes, as well. I think that is something Theo has to take one day at a time. But even setting aside the personal issues, I don’t think he has much chance of finding his game again. Not at either the NHL or AHL level. Theo always played a young man’s game, always on the edge. He was fading as a player in his early 30′s even before he signed with New York. As his skill faded, his personal problems escalated. Too often he was over the edge.

    Can a 41 year old body – one with plenty of miles on it – come off a six year layoff to be Theo Fleury or something that even remotely resembles Theo Fleury? I don’t think so.

    As for the rest of the training camp fodder out there, you’re right the fans are getting ripped off. Forcing your season ticket holders to buy exhibition tickets when you’re dressing skeleton lineups is just plain bad. But these players aren’t only auditioning for the Canucks, they’re also hoping to have a good camp and get noticed by a team that may not have the depth the Canucks have.

    I agree that these guys want to get noticed by somebody. I don’t think it has much to do with the depth and a lot to do with the travel. The Canucks have to do a lot of flying to cram in their games, so they are much more likely to bring this type of player to camp.

  3. Dennis_Prouse says:

    Sadly, one of the primary reasons why Theo is back is because he is broke. Divorce, lifestyle, and bad investments have combined to take all of his previous hockey income. (I don’t know what the number is for NHL players, but I do know that 60% of NFL players are broke within five years of leaving the game.) Theo, of course, doesn’t know any other way to make money other than to play hockey…

  4. Tom says:

    I don’t think he’s picked a good answer to his financial problems unless it sells some copies of his new book. I don’t know what he can do. I’ll be very surprised if playing professional hockey is a viable option.

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