No matter what side of the fence you’re on when it comes to Theoren Fleury’s improbable comeback attempt, the NHL czars’ decision to reinstate the pocket-sized winger after his lengthy exile is good news for Flames fans.
If you actually want the little runt to come back and play, and especially if you want him to wear Flames jersey No. 14 again, the fortuitousness of the decision speaks for itself. No matter how much of a longshot this whole second-coming scenario is for so many reasons, it was a complete non-starter as long as Fleury was persona non grata in the NHL.
That said, the NHL’s decision to let Fleury come back into the light might be even better news for Flames supporters who want their team to stay as far away from the former Calgary star as possible. You see, now that a purely hypothetical situation has turned into the very real possibility that Fleury will come knocking on the Flames’ door, general manager Darryl Sutter can make his lack of interest even more forceful and unequivocal than he already has.
Or if Sutter feels coerced by public and media pressure into giving Fleury a token tryout (we’ll pause here for a few minutes for you to stop laughing hysterically at the concept of the Ol’ Cowboy yielding to the whims of ink-stained wretches) then at least the whole matter will run its course before being put the bed once and for all.
Until Bettman and Co. issued the get-out-of-jail card, the possibility of Fleury playing was like a ghost at the Saddledome. While he was suspended, the what-if question about Fleury’s value to the Flames (or lack thereof) was as impossible to answer as “Is there life after death?” or “Does Sasquatch really exist?” or “What size jumpsuit would Elvis be wearing if he were still alive today?”
Now that Fleury has a clear path to return to the game, or at least as clear a path as a 41-year-old with a checkered history who in recent years has spent more time on concrete than on ice could hope for, the comeback bid will run its seemingly inevitable course and we won’t have to hear “If only the NHL had let Theo play” every time the Flames lose two games in a row or go oh-for-five on the power play.
Once the page has finally been turned on L’Affaire Fleury, Flames fans can turn their attentions back to pining for the return of Marc Savard, Martin Gelinas or a second round of playoff hockey.