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Fleury on comeback trail

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames
Theo Fleury, one of the most recognizable Calgary Flames of all time, is attempting a comeback.

If Jeremy Roenick and Claude Lemieux, who made a comeback at 43, played in the National Hockey League last season, Fleury, the five-foot-six pepper pot, figures he might have a chance at playing again.

Despite being out of the NHL limelight for six years, Fleury still has the hockey fire in in his blood and is skating in Calgary with some current Flames who are preparing for this fall's training camp.

Clean and sober and still attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, Fleury would need clearance from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to play in the league again as he remains under indefinite suspension for substance abuse. Then he would need a team to take a chance on him. And then, well, who knows?

The burning question is which team?

Could Fleury be wearing the Flaming C on his chest again? Judging by the Official Flames Message Board Flames faithful are torn on the idea of one of the most popular Flames in team history returning to the Saddledome. At first blush, it would seem a longshot. The Flames are building through their system and want to promote their young kids. It is, however, more likely that Fleury would land with a team that is rebuilding, a team that is looking for a veteran presence to help kids grow into the NHL game. The Flames have that already in players like Jarome Iginla, Robyn Regehr, Cory Sarich et al.

Fleury would likely relish the opportunity to play in Calgary again. But it is not just about Calgary.

"I'm doing this partly because I didn't go out the way I wanted to. And partly because I've watched this for five years and believe in my heart that there's still a place for me,'' Fleury told the Calgary Herald as news of his attempted comeback spread throughout the weekend.

Fleury at 41 is certainly a longshot to make it back to the NHL. He has played some senior level hockey, most recent in Steinbach, Man., last season. At the Flames Alumni Masters golf tournament earlier this summer, Fleury was toying with the idea of attempting a comeback and was training to get into hockey shape once again. His spark ignited by playing in the senior ranks.

"I was back playing hockey again, sober, and loved it. I decided to get back in shape and see where it took me. Look, I know this isn't going to be easy. I'll do everything I can, and if it doesn't work, then I'll go in a different direction. But it's something I feel I have to try,'' Fleury said.
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