Theo Fleury, 41, is making a comeback and everybody is rooting for him. If he makes the team, he’ll most likely stay with the Abbottsford Flames and help them sell some tickets there but it’s entirely possible he will play a few games in the NHL this year. Fleury, a former member of the 100-pts-100-PIM club, was always known for his little size and heart like a lion, measuring in at a tiny-by-NHL-standards 5’6″. Fleury, however, was often overshadowed by his substance abuse problems and on and off-ice antics (related or not). Fleury was always one to put emotions forward and take bad penalties, chicken dance for the New York Islanders, flip off crowds, try to climb out of a penalty box to reach a Coventry fan, beat on the Sharks mascot, and he has enough stripper incidents to put him in the company of Pacman Jones. Yet we still want him back.
It doesn’t make sense. Last year, Sean Avery was the brunt of enormous public scrutiny ranging from the NHL to his Dallas Stars teammates and even (the I couldn’t care less about the NHL, try and find them on my homepage) ESPN for his comments about ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert (it was actually directed at Dion Phaneuf). Sure Avery screwed up, sure he has a history of not keeping his mouth shut, and sure he danced infront of Martin Brodeur (an ingenious play on the rulebook in my opinion) but what is so different about Avery that doesn’t correlate right back to Fleury?
If Theo Fleury was Avery’s 5’10”, a more common NHL-stature, would we even like him as much? Avery never came close to 100-pts but the NHL was also a different NHL back when Fleury did it. Or, is it the fact that the Avery-incident is a product of newer communication technologies allowing news to spread faster than ever? No doubt, there will be many watchful eyes on Theo Fleury as he attempts this comeback and he is surely to be on a short leash, as the NHL doesn’t need anymore Avery-level distractions to hurt its brand this season. Let me know what you think.