The latest player named to FlamesNation’s All-Time Flames Team is a small man that played the game of hockey like a crazy person – Theoren Fleury.
Fleury never should have made it in the National Hockey League. He was too small. He frequently physically went after bigger players. He fought all the time. He played a game that was predicated on a combination of speed, finesse, and an odd amount of fearlessness. He probably should’ve gotten creamed by a bigger player during any number of games. He had personal problems that definitely hindered his game, yet he managed to put together an NHL career that spanned over 1,000 games – most of them with the Flames.
Theoren Fleury played like a crazy person. That’s probably why he was as good as he was. No sane person would’ve taken the risks he did on the ice, nor would they have been as successful.
When the Flames drafted Fleury in 1987, they probably hoped he’d be a decent player for their minor league team, the International Hockey League’s Salt Lake City Golden Eagles. However, he ended up cracking the NHL during his first professional season in 1988-89, playing a part in Calgary’s Stanley Cup victory. Unfortunately, that was the peak of his career – in his very first season. He’d never get close to a Cup again, even after he left Calgary in 1999 in a trade to Colorado for a bunch of players that included Robyn Regehr.
Despite being significantly smaller than the average NHLer, and having a career that spanned the run-and-gun 1980s and the clutch-and-grab 1990s, Fleury generated more than a point-per-game during six seasons of his decade in Calgary. That includes a 50-goal campaign in 1990-91, a pair of 40-goal seasons, and two 100+ point seasons. Despite these accomplishments, outside of sharing the since-discontinued plus/minus award in 1990-91, Fleury never won an individual NHL award.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)
- 4th in All-Time Flames Games Played (791)
- 2nd in All-Time Flames Points (830)
- 2nd in All-Time Flames Goals (364)
- 5th in All-Time Flames Penalty Minutes (1,339)
- Served as team captain for two seasons (1995-97)
During his tenure with the Flames, Theoren Fleury was the most popular player on the team – especially with young kids. He played the game with a chip on his shoulder, and his fearlessness on the ice endeared him to the fans – even when his conduct off the ice over the years has worked against him.
Fleury shouldn’t have been able to accomplish what he did in the NHL. He was too small. He had substance abuse issues, along with other personal issues that he thankfully finally tackled after he retired. Fleury heard his detractors loud and clear during his entire career. He had a 1,000-point, nearly-500-goal career anyway through a combination of sheer will and reckless abandon.