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ALL-TIME ALL-STARS - FLEURY

When Theoren Fleury entered the NHL, he had his fair share of doubters. He silenced them all.

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

They are the best of the best in Calgary Flames history.

Over 24 days we will profile our All-Time All-Stars (listed alphabetically at each position). Make sure to check back daily to see who's getting the nod.

May 7-11 - Right-wingers

May 12-16 - Centres

May 17-21 - Left-wingers

May 22-27 - Defencemen

May 28-30 - Goaltenders

Today we kick it off with the indomitable Theoren Fleury.

When he arrived on New Year's Day 1989, the official press release of his call-up from Salt Lake of the IHL had Theoren Fleury listed rather optimistically at 150 lb.

"Yeah," cackled coach Terry Crisp back then, "150 pounds with rocks in his pockets."

After 11 seasons modelling the Flaming C, nearly 20 years after his competitive departure and a decade after retirement, he remains a singular star in the franchise firmament. 

A truly one-of-a-kind, infectious blend of exciting and inciting.

"I've always had to accept that I was small," Fleury explained at the start of the amazing adventure. "There was no changing it. I had to dig down deep, real deep, and say: 'Screw the world! There isn't anybody or anything that's going to keep me from reaching my goal.'

"I've never doubted myself. Sure I'm a cocky little b------. That's what got me here."

Initially, both friends and foes wondered if maybe Fleury's mouth might not be more prodigious than his talent. 

(Just one example: In the spring of 1990, after Wayne Gretzky and the Hollywood-celebrity-darling L.A Kings had upset the reigning Stanley Cup-champ Flames in Round 1, Fleury was asked who'd win the ensuing L.A.-Oilers tiff. The little guy sneered: "Oh, Edmonton. The Kings are too busy going over to Jack Nicholson's house for barbecues").

In '90-91, he hit for 51 goals and what would be a career-high 104 points. On six occasions, including four seasons in a row, he'd top the Flames in scoring.  

"It seemed," Fleury reminisced of his early days trying to make a team, prove a point, kick-start, "that everyone on the team was against me back then.

"Here I was, this little kid, encroaching on their territory. It took a while for me to fit in. I was taking someone's place in the lineup - someone who'd been there a while - and there was resentment. I could definitely feel it. But I didn't care. I was in the NHL, where I'd dreamed my whole life of being."

Fleury images are among the cameo-keepsake moments of a decade in this town: The gap-toothed urchin drafted as a curiosity to peddle tickets in the minor leagues taking his turn lugging the Stanley Cup around the old Montreal Forum; swiping the puck from Mark Messier in overtime of Game 6 up north in 1991 to score and then the wild, impromptu celebration, jitter-bugging all over the ice on his knees at Northlands Coliseum; the night he was selected to the '98 Olympic team that would go on to claim gold in Salt Lake City; that trademark gap-toothed grin; the eye-popping moments of breathtaking brilliance; the Did-He-Just …? moments of utter anarchy.

As a local icon, he carved out a lasting popularity only rivalled by Lanny McDonald and Jarome Iginla.

On Feb 19th, 1999 at the 'Dome against Anaheim, a mere 10 days before being dealt to the Colorado Avalanche over contract issues, Fleury - an eighth-round draft pick that many considered a throwaway in the summer of '87 - passed former teammate Al MacInnis' table-topping haul of 822 career points, netting two goals and an assist versus the Ducks.

Elevating him to a position he stubbornly knew he could aspire to, all along:

The summit.

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