After months of hearing rumours that Theoren Fleury's failed comeback attempt with the Calgary Flames was just a publicity stunt on the heels of the release of his book Playing With Fire, it turns out he really wanted to make the roster after all—and he isn't pleased with the team for cutting him.
According to Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun, Fleury expressed some hostile remarks about the club on his personal Web site before pulling them down on Wednesday because he reportedly said "it wasn't worth the headache."
Apparently, Fleury believed that his play during Calgary's preseason should have been good enough to make the squad, which for anyone that watched his performance, is as right as saying Hugh Hefner has scored with a lot of beautiful women.
Fleury then went on to say, "At 180 pounds, I finished 11th out of 56 guys in the fitness test and scored an historic shootout goal in an exhibition game after being out of hockey for six years. What does that say about the talent level in the NHL? Four 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 without a goal. 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," Fleury added.
The report went on to say that Fleury predicts the Flames will lose in the first round of the playoffs again this season, and that he also said Calgary "should trade Robyn Regehr and finally get someone for Iggy to play with."
Now while Fleury is going to take some heat for this, and most likely lose out on any future endeavours to work for the team that drafted him, he makes some valid points.
And if Jeremy Roenick can speak his mind, why can't Fleury? He at least has a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal, and a Canada Cup championship to back it up. The guy is a winner; he has fought the battles and knows what it takes.
The fact is, he should have made the Flames this season; he has a legitimate beef. But in Calgary's defense with the release of Fleury's book, the dressing room would have been a media circus with questions of the drug abuse and Graham James.
Calgary's hands were tied, which is a shame because he may have made a difference on a team that at times looks like they could use a spark every now and then to jump-start their offense.
At 41, and coming off an impressive training camp, if Fleury really wanted to get back into the game, I'm sure it isn't completely out of the question.
It just is in Calgary.
At 43, Claude Lemieux did it last season, picking up one assist in 18 games with the San Jose Sharks after scoring three goals and eight assists in 23 games with their AHL affiliate in Worcester.
So it can be done—if teams are looking to take the risk and Fleury is passionate about returning.
Fleury is out of hockey for now, and because of that, he believes he shouldn't take any heat for his comments.
But if he cares enough to make them, maybe he shouldn't give up just yet. Last time I checked, Edmonton looked like they could use some veteran help, and that may just be the best way to get back at a Flames team that shouldn't have let him go.
If they can find a place in the NHL for guys like Brandon Prust and Colton Orr to play and score two goals a year, they've got to be able to find a place for a guy like Fleury.
The fact that they can't makes me question why I even like this game in the first place.