Theo Fleury wants to get back on a hockey rink. One as far removed from the shinny palaces of Chicago, Calgary and Denver of his NHL career, but still it's a sheet of ice with a dressing room and some team mates. However, Theo has hit a roadblock on his way back to the rink
Fleury was to make his debut in the North Peace Hockey League on Thursday night , a senior league in North Western Alberta which up until yesterday probably never received much in the way of national attention. But late Thursday came word from Hockey Canada, that Fleury was ineligible to play in the Senior Hockey loop, becasue he was under contract last yeat to an NHL team. Hockey Canada has some rather strict rules about Senior teams signing NHL players, basically current NHLers can't play for any Senior team, Fleury's current status of suspended apparently the sticking point as far as eligibility goes. Which for now, will leave Fleury in the rink, but nowhere near the ice.
Fleury landed in the Peace to play for the Horse Lake First Nation's team a Senior Team that hopes to be hoisting the Allan Cup by this Spring. For those that haven't followed Senior Hockey for a while, the Allan Cup is the top trophy for Senior A Hockey. Basically the place where those that have left Junior A and didn't get more than a cup of coffee with the various pro leagues go.
Once upon a time, before NHL expansion, the growth of the Junior leagues and the ever present content of television, the Allan Cup was a big deal, now you would be hard pressed to name the teams that compete for it, let alone any teams that have won it.
But hockey is hockey and Fleury hopes to appeal the ruling and don number 74, taking the ice with fellow former NHLer Gino Odjick and do his best for Horse Lake as they travel the roads of Northern Alberta . Odjick has been helping out the Horse Lake First Nation with their summer hockey program, acting as a role model for the youth of the reserve, as well as providing some hockey know how in his spare time. Fleury it is hoped will also help with the young people there, perhaps giving them first hand knowledge of the dangers that may tempt them along their path in life.
Fleury has been struggling with substance abuse issues for a few years now, a situation which has been well documented over the last couple of years. In fact, he currently is suspended by the NHL over those substance abuse problems. Controversy has been no stranger to him of late and he again, finds himself once again the centre of media attention. It seems that even travelling as far as Peace country, Fleury can't find any peace.