Making the case: Theoren Fleury

One of the NHL’s most prolific scorers is suddenly available!

Too bad it’s one of the NHL’s most prolific scorers of the 1990′s.

The 41 year old Theo Fluery is trying to do what Claude Lemieux did last season: make a comeback from obscurity to the National Hockey League. Fleury, who last played an NHL game back 2003 where he posted 33 points in 54 games for the Chicago Blackhawks, is an eight time 30+ goal scorer in the NHL as well a seven time All-Star. If there was one, he’d be the starting right winger on Calgary’s All-Time team and he’s forever etched in hockey fans’ minds with his series-winning overtime goal celebration in 1991.

Now, let’s be honest, the 5’6″ Saskatoon native isn’t the same player as he once was. But, that being said, he’s motivated to prove he can comeback, not a lot of teams are going to take a flier on him so he’s in relatively low demand, according to Mirtle’s blog he needs money and apparently he’s been working out since February to try and get in game-shape so he’s dedicated. All important ingredients to making a team believe he’s serious.

But should Nashville contact him for a try-out? We’re not convinced.

There was once a guy who played for a professional sports team in Nashville that went by the name of Pacman Jones. This guy couldn’t stay out of trouble, even bringing it with him as he visited other states (Nevada and Georgia just to name a couple). Fleury has had the same types of run-ins. Not only had he battled with alcohol since entering the league in 1988, but he was also involved in a strip club incident as recently as January 2003. Fleury, having been suspended numerous times for violating the leagues substance abuse policy, has reportedly been clean for four years now. Absolutely no one is knocking that and even fewer people would say this isn’t a great story (if he makes it back to professional hockey after all he’s been through) but it does raise a red flag in a market that’s already been through the Pacman saga. Since Fleury hadn’t done any of those things in Nashville, would anyone care? Would anyone even remember? These are tough questions they’ll have to ask themselves if the Predators are serious about giving him a shot.

The offense he’d supply really could bring a lot to the table, and for a cheap price (the first year) and, for a team that’s struggled to put the puck in the net, the offensive production would be welcome. Some would argue that while Jason Arnott is the captain of this team, he takes shifts off and that’s not an effective way to lead by example. Fleury was an alternate captain for the Flames for years and, considering what he’s been through in his life, would be a phenomenal leadership presence. Furthermore Fleury was on the 1989 Calgary Flames team that hoisted the Stanley Cup, so he’d be yet another “winner” brought in by the Nashville organization.

And then there’s money…

The Preds aren’t looking to spend a lot on free agents (if any at all). Fleury would be the rare find that possesses all of the ingredients listed above that would come at a cheap price. Lemieux made $500,000 last season in a similar comeback bid so one would believe that Fleury would get around the same.

Obviously if Fleury’s looking for a true Stanley Cup contender to be on than he’ll pass on Nashville but, if Mirtle’s point about him needing money is true, he’ll want to invest his efforts into something longer term which could mean Nashville gets a look if they went calling.

While he’s not going to be the point-per-game player he once was, Fleury could be an extremely valuable asset to a team like the Predators. It would behoove General Manager David Poile to at least place a few phone calls.

And hey, now that Radek Bonk‘s gone, the number 14 is available…

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This is the sixth in a series (but first on an all-of-a-sudden basis) that section303.com will be doing on the available UFA’s.