CBC Sports

The importance of Theoren Fleury’s chance

Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2009 | 10:50 AM

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Here’s hoping Theoren Fleury makes it back to the NHL. We could all use an inspirational story right about now.

“There are no expectations from you or me!” That’s what Fleury told the media in Calgary recently.

Thank goodness because that means something out of the ordinary might happen. Heaven knows we need deliverance from the dreary monotony of the Phoenix Coyotes courtroom saga and the endless parade of free agents who’ve signed huge contracts to play for teams they have no particular loyalty to.

Fleury’s chance to resurrect a career cut short by drug and alcohol abuse marks the possibility that sport still has room for hope and dreams. Maybe this 41-year-old former champion is the right man to enlighten us.

In spite of being only five-foot-six and being told he’d never make an impact, he scored 455 goals and 1088 points in the big leagues while winning a Stanley Cup and an Olympic gold medal. Beyond that, on a purely visceral level, Fleury personified excitement.

He could skate and shoot and rough it up … he was oh-so-dynamic and the kind of guy you found yourself rooting for. He was a little big man who made things happen every time he launched himself over the boards where adventure was bound to ensue.

Making the most of another chance

We shouldn’t dismiss Fleury’s opportunity to return to the game he loves, because if we do, we might be turning our backs on the redemptive power of sport.

It happened with Eric Lamaze. A boy wonder show jumper who twice was banned from the Olympics for substance abuse, Lamaze hung in there and won a gold medal at the 2008 Games. Now he’s still at the top of his game and an honest-to-goodness success story.

“Despite his troubles of the past I find him one of the most compelling and likeable characters I’ve ever dealt with in my job,” CBC broadcaster Karin Larsen revealed.

Maybe it’s because like Theoren Fleury, Eric Lamaze is a human being who has overcome a tragic flaw. Perhaps that’s why Fleury’s chance is so important now.

If he makes good, Fleury could prove that sport still loves long shots and that every once in awhile the unexpected can and does happen.

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