Why hasn’t Theoren Fleury made it into the Hockey Hall of Fame?

It’s Hall of Fame Induction Day today, as Sergei Makarov, Eric Lindros and Rogie Vachon join the elite group of male hockey players that have been inducted into the hallowed halls of hockeydom. Annually around this time, conversation turns to stellar National Hockey League players that are not yet in the Hall of Fame.

Most frequently mentioned by Calgary Flames followers: Theoren Fleury. Just 5’6″ and 160 pounds with his gear on, and besieged by horrible off-ice problems illustrated in his book Playing With Fire, Fleury nonetheless put together a tremendously productive professional career. So how come he’s not yet in the Hall? The short answer, it seems, is that his retirement had some awful timing given the other players who were eligible at the time.

To illustrate that, let’s look at the 27 male players that have been inducted instead of Fleury since he became eligible for induction.

Fleury’s Resume

  • 1,088 points in 1,084 NHL regular season games (and 79 points in 77 playoff games).
  • Won Stanley Cup.
  • Also won a Canada Cup, an Olympic gold medal and a World Junior gold medal.

Fleury never won a major individual trophy in the NHL. The players inducted since he became eligible in 2009 generally have better resumes than he does for a few reasons.

  • Higher points production, either due to longevity (more career points) or due to having a short, productive career (higher points-per-game).
  • More Stanley Cups.
  • More individual trophies.

The Breakdown

Player
Inducted
Points
Per Game
Stanley
Cups
Trophies
Brett Hull 2009 1.096
Longer career
2 1x Lady Byng
3x Goal-Scoring Leader
Brian Leetch 2009 0.853
Longer career
1 1x Conn Smythe
2x Norris
1x Calder
Luc Robitaille 2009 0.974
Longer career
1 1x Calder
Steve Yzerman 2009 1.159
Longer career
3 1x Masterton
1x Selke
1x Conn Smythe
Dino Ciccarelli 2010 0.974
Longer career
0 None
Ed Belfour 2011 n/a 0 1x Calder
2x Vezina
4x Jennings
Doug Gilmour 2011 0.959
Longer career
1 1x Selke
Mark Howe 2011 0.920
Longer career
0 None
Joe Nieuwendyk 2011 0.895
Longer career
3 1x Calder
1x Conn Smythe
1x King Clancy
Pavel Bure 2012 1.100
Shorter career
0 1x Calder
3x Goal-Scoring Leader
Adam Oates 2012 1.062
Longer career
0 None
Joe Sakic 2012 1.191
Longer career
2 1x Hart
1x Lady Byng
1x Conn Smythe
Mats Sundin 2012 1.002
Longer career
0 None
Chris Chelios 2013 0.574
Longer career
3 3x Norris
Scott Niedermayer 2013 0.586
Longer career
4 1x Norris
1x Conn Smythe
Brendan Shanahan 2013 0.888
Longer career
3 1x King Clancy
Rob Blake 2014 0.612
Longer career
1 1x Norris
Peter Forsberg 2014 1.250
Shorter career
2 1x Calder
1x Hart
1x Art Ross
Dominik Hasek 2014 n/a 2 6x Vezina
2x Jennings
2x Hart
Mike Modano 2014 0.917
Longer career
1 None
Sergei Fedorov 2015 0.945
Longer career
3 2x Selke
1x Hart
Phil Housley 2015 0.824
Longer career
0 None
Nicklas Lidstrom 2015 0.730
Longer career
4 7x Norris
1x Conn Smythe
Chris Pronger 2015 0.598
Longer career
1 1x Norris
1x Hart
Eric Lindros 2016 1.138
Shorter career
0 1x Hart
Sergei Makarov 2016 0.906
Shorter career
0 1x Calder
Rogie Vachon 2016 n/a 3 1x Vezina

Most of these guys have a bunch of hardware, both in terms of Stanley Cups and individual trophies. Out of the players with no significant individual hardware, all had longer professional careers (in terms of games) than Fleury and amassed more points. Sergei Makarov also has the historical significance of being a really great Russian player.

Looking Ahead

First-time eligible players for Hall of Fame induction in 2017 include Teemu Selanne, who’s a slam dunk, and Daniel Alfredsson, who has a strong case. Beyond that? Mark Recchi, Dave Andreychuk, Pierre Turgeon, Jeremy Roenick, Bernie Nicholls, Vincent Damphousse and Rod Brind’Amour all have more career points than Fleury.

How do they compare to Fleury in a wider sense?

Player
Points
Per Game
Stanley
Cups
Trophies
Teemu Selanne 1.004
Longer career
1 1x Calder
1x Masterton
3x Goal-Scoring Leader
Daniel Alfredsson 0.929
Longer career
0 1x Calder
1x King Clancy
Mark Recchi 0.928
Longer career
3 None
Dave Andreychuk 0.816
Longer career
1 None
Pierre Turgeon 1.026
Longer career
0 1x Lady Byng
Jeremy Roenick 0.892
Longer career
0 None
Bernie Nicholls 1.073
Longer career
0 None
Vincent Damphousse 0.874
Longer career
1 None
Rod Brind’Amour 0.798
Longer career
1 2x Selke

Based on electing guys with long careers with a lot of pretty good seasons but no super-elite years (Ciccarelli, Oates, Howe, Sundin, Modano, Housley), it seems like Fleury’s in tough over the next year or two of Hall of Fame voting. Selanne is a lock, while Alfredsson will likely be voted in, leaving just two spots for 2017.

Sum It Up

There have been stronger candidates for the Hall of Fame than Fleury for every year of his eligibility so far, and there are enough eligible players that have as good a case as he does for induction that the next couple years could continue to see Fleury get shut out of the Hall.

    • McRib

      I don’t disageee, but isn’t his charitable work with sexual assault victims and addiction consulting working towards repairing that past history? I am a 90s kid, Theo is the only sane reason I ended up as a Flames fans, so I hope someday he is elected (also time to put that 14 in the rafters).

      I went to his Hockey school for three years no one was better than he was with us kids (whereas Trevor Kidd used to scare kids at his Hockey school and would hardly interact). I’ll never forget how accommodating he was with fans even back in his prime. Sure he had his demons, but he has more than made up for his past in my opinion. Unfortunately the NHL is run by a bunch of old boy intolerance self righteous a**holes who still deny that things like concussions are damaging long term.

      Lastly if Theo was sober his numbers would have dwarfed even more players in the HHOF. I mean the guy was leading the NHL in scoring in NY with a $800 a day coke habit. It’s time to forgive Theo for his wrongdoings his interview this past weekend speaks to how he has changed. He tried to find the positive and didn’t say one negative thing about this year as we were being pumped by NYR. People are so unforgiving in our society it’s sad.

      • Parallex

        See here’s the thing… I’ve yet to have met anyone who has had any interaction with Theo Fleury (be it professional or personal) outside of hockey that had anything remotely positive to say about it. The two most common adjectives they use to describe him have generally been “Major A**hole” and the more charitable “Egomaniac”.

        I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that the folk who vote on HoF inclusion may have had like interactions. Hard to vote for someone to get an honor when you don’t care for the person in question.

  • Kensington

    His off ice problems will probably make it extremely tough to make it to the hall. When you are on par with the others then it does come into consideration.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Because he don’t act right.

    Same reason he hasn’t had his number retired.

    Every time someone hands him a mic, I just cringe.

    I’m not saying he shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame, but that’s why he isn’t.

    • McRib

      Theo has done nothing but positive things the last ten plus years, it’s time to forgive and forget. I actually would have a hard time finding another retired NHLer who has done as much charitably as Theo over the last decade.

      • Not sure where this comes from.

        Theo has done very little Chartible and good things for the community without his hand out for some kind of kick back or benefit to him. Just ask Sheldon Kennedy this. I have no doubt he has done some progress on certain things and definitely he cna’t be blamed for the demons he’s faced. But the point of my comment above was that he blames his life on his past as an excuse to continue to be a crappy ahole even to this date. ask around, talk to people about him. It’s always the same things. Same problems.

  • Primo

    What disturbs me somewhat is that the Flames (Ken King) have not recognized him for his accomplishments like they have with Vernon, Niewy and MacInnis…

    Unlike the Haps and Oiler organizations the Flames do a very poor job…others on that 89 Stanley Cup team could also be recognized…..

  • The Last Big Bear

    On being invited to Flames camp at 41 years old, given a last kick at the can, and the opportunity to bow out on a high note and retire as a Flame:

    @Theo Fleury

    4 points and a plus 4 rating in four exhibition games and I get cut. What a joke! Craig Conroy goes the first 37 games of the season with zero goals. I wonder how many I would have had. Even with all the stupid people that run the game of hockey, it’s still a great game. Go figure.

    Manages to call the people that gave him another shot “stupid”, insults the NHL, and throws Craig Conroy under the bus, all in one blog post.

    THIS is why Fleury hasn’t had his number retired, and is not in the Hall of Fame.

    Because he doesn’t act right.

  • Arminius

    Theo was the bomb. Favorite player and still have my Fleury jersey the original white home Jersey.
    Growing up in Coil Country sucked. He was the best for me though. Filled the net and did what he wanted with not a stitch of fear didn’t matter who was on the ice with him.
    160 pounds of uncontrollable talent and viciousness. And he drove the Oilers and their fans craaazaayyy haha. No one had an answer for him

    Ever.

    And big game or playoff series. You knew you’d never have to worry about Theo. He’d show up guaranteed. Don’t remember him ever missing games either. Kind of one of those guys the fans als
    ways say. Oh can’t wait McSorleys gonna put him in the hospital or Messiers gonna break his legs tonight..never happened.

  • Arminius

    Even when the Flames were struggling and there was little talent on the ice besides him. Theo would still score and do his thing. Shame that he may never get In because he’s offended people that vote..absolutely should be in there

    • Jakethesnail

      You failed to mention how he acted on the ice as well. He acted like a complete A$$hole off and on the ice.
      You can’t act like a complete idiot and expect people not to notice.
      Loved him on Team Canada though. Wishing he’d score a goal then take a big hit!

      Hall of fame no but the battle of Alberta would not be the same without him in it.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        But that was who he was on and off the ice! He had real demons, which he has made painfully public over the years. To be sure during his playing days, Flames brass tried to downplay his antics, which probably did more to hurt him than help him, but through all the crap he had to work through–crap I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy–he had a long and very productive NHL career. Since retiring, he has made a sincere and largely successful effort at getting himself into a healthy place and a good personal situation that is sustainable.

        As for being a jerk on and off the ice, it never hurt Glen Anderson admission to the HOF. He has been a deadbeat dad in how many countries, provinces and states? The public still prefers to remember him for his big goals rather than his frequent appearances in family court. Too bad Theo can’t be remembered mainly for what he did on the ice because it was HUGE!

        • Jakethesnail

          Anderson 6 Stanley cups might have something to do with that!

          Still in the top game winning goals in cup history. Didn’t burn every bridge he crossed either.

          • BlueMoonNigel

            He was a passenger for Stanley Cup 6.

            Winning cups is more a team accomplishment than an individual accomplishment.

            I think the mothers who bore the speedy and elusive Anderson’s kids and the kids themselves might beg to differ that Mork never burned any bridges.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        I’m glad you mentioned how much you liked him on Team Canada, since it’s the only opportunity an Oiler fan would have. Fleury was an Oiler killer and everyone loved it.

        Put me in the camp of “If only on ice skills counted, he’d be in”. Fleury rubs everyone wrong eventually.

  • Joe Flames

    Two words: Bernie Federko

    Federko being in while fleury isn’t, makes the HHOF a joke.

    Federko was a good player but never won anything, and had fewer points in fewer games than fleury. I don’t know how he got in way back when. If he is in how can you say some of these other guys don’t deserve it?

    Same goes for Ciccarelli, he was a good player, but Fleury was far better.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Pure politics plain and simple.

    When Theo went off the rails with the grog and the junk he made a mockery of the so-called wholesome values the NHL purportedly stood for. The tragic deaths of a number of recently retired NHLers should have totally smashed the ridiculous notion of the NHL being a league of truth,virtue and pure sportsmanship. It’s time for the HOF selection committee to finally say that wrinkles, warts, scabs, scabs, boils, and festering wounds aside, Theo was one fantastic NHLer. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that when he was in his prime, he was a game changer. Theo deserves to be enshrined in the HOF. It is just wrong to keep punishing him for being human and that as a pro athlete, his personal issues became part of the public domain.

  • I was the biggest Fleury fan growing up. Being a small statured skilled kid during the 90s he was my idol. This was before there was one of those on almost every team and like 6 on Tampa lol. But anyhow. I went to his hockey school, i got his very own game used stick given to me and signed by him for improving on a drill i was so terrible at in the first on ice session that I improved my time like by 4 mins he couldn’t even believe it. It was my first ever year playing hockey I didnt know how the drills worked I didnt really know nothing. But i learned. I had his jersey, i had skate guards he helped create by jova. I befriended his eldest son at the school and we became pretty good friends. The guy could do no wrong.

    Then i grew up and i read all the things he said about Calgary after he left. I read all the things he said about teh NHL after they kicked him out. I read all the things he’s said about family and friends who’ve helped him out over the years and the way he treated his eldest mom. I heard my dad tell me about how much of a cocky a-hole he was strutting around the arena during the off ice sessions when he wasn’t on the ice hitting on all the moms looking down my moms shirt infront of his wife and kid.

    Fleury reminds me of a lot of my dad’s brother. Always holding his hand out expecting the world to owe him something because he had a crappy life growing up. Well news flash Theo you’re not the only one who has had a crappy life and you’re not the only one who was handed a raw deal in life.

    He can blame the abuse and the drugs and everything else but until that man apologises for the things he’s said. The bridges he’s burnt and the sense of entitlement he still has even today from what I’ve heard. (Going to the ownership and KK saying they owe him money and others as well) he Will forever and always be a black sheep in the NHL. He will never get inducted into the Hall of Fame because he’s just a very crappy person to others.
    Being good at hockey doesn’t give you the right to think you’re a gift to humankind. Why should that be rewarded.

  • TheoForever

    All heart, if the current edition of our team had half as much fire as the little guy, we would have a team worth watching.

    Should be in the Hall of Fame.

    • dontcryWOLF88

      This team could easily have as much heart. Just need a mountain of coke in the middle of the dressing game. Just, like, dont overthink it man…ya know? Where do you think that fire came from?! I have a friend who tried drugs once, apparently it can get you really quite pumped. Who knew?

      …i recall numerous theories thats where Kipper got his gusto from also

    • dontcryWOLF88

      I cant really say my one and only time sort of meeting theo was great either TBH. i was also a big fan of his growing up….then ran into him at, ironically, a charity event raising money for the olympics (athletes got in free, so hold the applause). I was outside for a minute and saw him standing there having a smoke, was going to tell him how I had Crohns growing up like he did and he was kind of a big deal to me….anywho, I got through about half a sentence and then he dropped the cigarette he just lit and walked inside.

      I could really care less, though that seemed like a weird thing to do at the time.

      • TheoForever

        Sorry, to hear that. He was a self absorbed jerk often enough, although there were people that had a nice experience with him, probably not that many.

        I’m going purely on hockey and he was a great player.

        As for building up athletes into heroes, not a good idea, most of them have insane egos just like most successful people in business or what have you.

  • BobB

    The HHOF is broken not only if he’s in before Fleury but if Brind’amour is in ever.

    Guy never had a 40 goal nor 100 pt season.

    As well, Fleury deserves to be in but who cares, it doesn’t change what a special player he was on the ice. It’s a back-slapping club.

    Maybe it’s better that he’s not in as he’d probably start a brawl at the dinner table.

    He’s a giant of the Flames history and a legend of the NHL with a diminutive stature.

    He lasted about 1050 games more than anyone thought (lasted more games than Lindros – the prototypical player) and scored about 1000 pts more than anyone would have bet.

    Just like an honorary degree doesn’t guarantee you are intelligent, the Hall doesn’t change a damn thing about how far Fleury went, how elite he was.

  • Albertabeef

    Straight up Theo was a jerk. If you don’t know otherwise you never heard him talk after games. “If I didn’t score, the team would never win a game”. What Theo never mentioned was how many games we lost because of his stupid penalties. You get into the hall for what you did as a player, not what you do afterwards(with the exception of other hall catagories). If he does peer couciling then maybe in 25 years he goes into the “victim/councilor hall of fame”. Pete Rose deserves the BBHOF more than Theo deserves the HHOF.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Theo has admitted for years that in his playing days he was not an especially nice person to be around. He has confessed his sins and asked for forgiveness.

      On top of all the mental and emotional crap he has had to deal with since he was a kid, he was also a minnow swimming with whales for virtually his entire hockey career. How many times do you reckon bigger players took liberties with him because of his size? How often did he get ridiculed and derided as he progressed through the different levels of organized hockey that he had peaked because he was too small? Being told repeatedly that you aren’t good enough is going to build one massive ego on a lot of guys. I suspect this contributed to Theo being such a jerk.

      Rose still admits he has done nothing wrong. Did you hear his tirade last summer when the topic of his being in the HOF came up? He sounded like Manson at a parole hearing. Rose simple doesn’t get it. That is why the HOF remains closed to him.