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At 41, Theo Fleury hopes for NHL comeback

Tuesday, 08.11.2009 / 3:04 PM / News

By NHL.com Staff

Theo Fleury, six years removed from his last stint in the National Hockey League, wants to play again. TSN is reporting that the 41-year-old, who hasn't played in the NHL since the 2002-03 season, is working toward making a comeback.

"If I get to play, period -- I don't care where it is. I just want to play," Fleury said on Monday. "The end goal is to some day, some how, some way get back."

A comeback by Fleury wouldn't be unprecedented. Claude Lemieux played 18 games with the San Jose Sharks this past season at age 43 after sitting out for five years, and 47-year-old Chris Chelios played with Detroit.

Fleury averaged better than a point per game during his NHL career, scoring 455 goals with 633 assists for 1,088 points for the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks in 1,084 regular-season games. Fleury won a Stanley Cup in his rookie season with the Flames in 1989 and 34 goals and 79 points in 77 playoff contests.

However, he hasn't played since scoring 12 goals and 33 points with Chicago in 2002-03. Since then, he has played in Europe and played senior hockey in North America last season. According to TSN, Fleury decided in February that he was fit enough to play in the NHL and hired a personal trainer to help him get into top shape.

At 5-foot-6, Fleury was one of the smallest players in the League -- but also one of its most tenacious and successful on the ice. In just his second full season he recorded career highs of 51 goals and 104 points for Calgary.

He added a 100-point season in 1992-93 and three more 40-goal seasons, including one split between the Flames and Avalanche. Dealt to Colorado at the trade deadline in 1999, Fleury helped them to the Western Conference Finals with 17 points in 18 playoff games.

Over the summer he moved on to the Rangers, where he averaged 67 points over his three seasons in the Big Apple. Fleury's NHL career seemingly ended with his 33-point performance with the Blackhawks six years ago -- but like Lemieux he's hoping to prove he can still contribute.

"I have to believe somewhere, someway that I can do this," he told TSN. "Otherwise there is no sense in me putting in the work and not expecting to achieve the end goal."

Lemieux, who had also last played in 2002-03, signed with San Jose last season and was eventually called up to the Sharks for 18 regular-season games and one playoff contest. He produced just one assist and retired again after the season.

For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory