In the end, it just wasn’t enough for Theo Fleury to make the team.
The months dedicated to getting back into shape, the fire and determination in his eyes, and the passion that he exhibited in four exhibition games just were not enough to make the team for which he once starred.
In handing down Fleury’s sentence, Flames General Manager Daryl Sutter played the unenviable role of the Grim Reaper, bringing to an end what would have set the gold standard for Cinderella stories.
While certainly disappointing for Theo and his legions of fans, it should not overshadow what he has accomplished in the recent weeks and months. He came back from the brink, from the bottom of the barrel, and showed us that he was capable of so much.
He showed that it is possible to return to greatness, albeit for only a short amount of time in his case, after many years of exile. He still stands as a shining example for all of those who have faced adversity in their lives, an example of someone who has beaten the odds time and time again.
What does the future hold for Fleury, one of the fiercest players ever to lace up the blades? No one but Fleury knows, but if he wants it, he will find a hockey home somewhere else, and likely in the NHL.
By trying out for the Calgary Flames, Fleury was trying out for one of the NHL’s deeper teams and one that is considered a perennial Cup contender. Even with the loss of Cammalleri to the Habs, the Flames have a bevy of talented forwards capable of playing a top six role.
There are plenty of teams in the league—Phoenix, Colorado, NY Islanders, Florida—that could use an extra creative forward on their team. These teams might not be able to offer him the playoffs, but they most certainly could offer him a roster spot on opening night.
Maybe he realizes that he could never play in anything other than Flames silks and retires at a press conference only to take a front office position with the Flames and to see his No. 14 jersey get retired on opening night. This would see Fleury maintain his involvement with the team that he made into a contender and the team that made him famous.
No one knows what Fleury will do, but we do know one thing: He came back from the brink and tried his damnedest to make the team, and for doing that, we should thank him.
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