Friday, September 11, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: Fleury's back (kind of)

Theoren Fleury is one step closer to suiting up in the NHL this season.

Because he was suspended indefinitely in 2003 for violating the NHL's substance abuse policy, Fleury had to be reinstated by the league before he could really act on his comeback attempt. He got his wish on Thursday night, when both the league and the players association gave Fleury the green light.

Now comes the hard part - the 41-year-old has been working out in Calgary, possibly a hint that they'll give him a sentimental invitation, like the Detroit Red Wings did for Darren McCarty in 2008.

Those two players actually have quite a bit in common when you look at it: both players were fan favourites with the teams they spent their best days with, but both also battled off-ice demons like substance abuse and had to deal with financial troubles on top of everything else.

The difference for McCarty is that he wasn't five years removed from his last NHL game. On the other side of it, Fleury (who is four years sober) had a pretty prolific career and could maybe still contribute in some way.

The 5-foot-6 forward had impressive numbers during his playing days - 455 goals and 1,088 points in 1084 career games with the Flames, Avs, Rangers and Blackhawks, even winning a gold medal with Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Can Fleury come back and resume his playing career for a few more years? I'm going to say no.

Can he work his way back into the league for another season, or at least part of another season? Sure. Claude Lemieux proved this past season that it can be done, but don't expect it to last.

Lemieux has since retired again , satisfied with reaching his goal and McCarty is trying to find work in Russia after being let go by the Wings and not getting any bites from other NHL clubs.

These days it seems like only Brett Favre can make a comeback last a decade!

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