This coming May is the 40th anniversary of the Atlanta Flames moving to Calgary. To commemorate this occasion, we’re counting down the Top 40 Calgary Flames in history.
#4 on our list is Theoren Fleury.
For anybody who grew up as a fan of the Flames in the 1990s, Fleury was probably their favourite player. Originally a late round pick of the Flames in 1987, the thought was he’d be a decent minor league star that could help their IHL team fill the seats.
Baseball great Ty Cobb once remarked that baseball was not unlike a war, and that was seemingly the mentality Fleury took into every shift. Generously described as 5’6″ by the NHL, Fleury was smaller than basically everybody he ever played against. He didn’t seem to care, as he played the game with a certain type of indescribable ferocity. (It was only later, upon the release of his autobiography Playing with Fire did everyone learn that the demons that haunted Fleury likely the fuel for his playing style.)
Fleury made his NHL debut on a stacked Flames team and as he matured, key pieces of the 1989 Cup team were removed from all around him. But for most of a decade, Fleury was the main reason to go to a Flames game. He’d often score a good goal or start a fight. In nine full seasons with the Flames, he never scored fewer than 27 goals (he hit 51 once) and he ranged from 58 to 104 points, cracking the century mark twice.
If you read his book, you know that Fleury had some issues off the ice. But when he was on his game and had his head on straight, there were few better players in the NHL. He left the club in 1999 when a contract negotiation didn’t lead to an extension, but the swap landed the Flames another big asset in the form of Robyn Regehr.
Fleury is #4 on our all-time list.
Arrival: Selected in the eighth round, 166th overall, in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft (June 13, 1987)
Departure: Traded with Chris Dingman to Colorado for Rene Corbet, Wade Belak, Robyn Regehr and 2001 second round pick (Jarret Stoll) (February 28, 1999)
Awards: 1989 Stanley Cup winner; 1994-95 Second Team All-Star
Top 40 Calgary Flames: HM Martin Gelinas | HM Al Coates | HM Bob Johnson | HM Darryl Sutter | HM Cliff Fletcher | #40 Brad Marsh | #39 Matt Stajan | #38 Jiri Hudler | #37 Dion Phaneuf | #36 Guy Chouinard | #35 Phil Housley | #34 Matthew Tkachuk | #33 Cory Stillman | #32 Curtis Glencross | #31 Jamie Macoun | #30 Carey Wilson | #29 Reggie Lemelin | #28 TJ Brodie | #27 Alex Tanguay | #26 Daymond Langkow | #25 Sergei Makarov | #24 Craig Conroy | #23 Robert Reichel | #22 Paul Reinhart | #21 Doug Gilmour | #20 Mikael Backlund | #19 Jim Peplinski | #18 Joel Otto | #17 Tim Hunter | #16 Joe Mullen | #15 Sean Monahan | #14 Robyn Regehr | #13 Mike Vernon | #12 Kent Nilsson | #11 Hakan Loob | #10 Lanny McDonald | #9 Johnny Gaudreau | #8 Gary Roberts | #7 Gary Suter | #6 Miikka Kiprusoff | #5 Joe Nieuwendyk