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.
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.
Being only five-foot-six, he was told he’d never make an impact, but he scored 455 goals and 1,088 points in the NHL while winning a Stanley Cup and Olympic gold. 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 rooted for. He was a little big man who made things happen every time he launched himself over the boards.
We shouldn’t dismiss Fleury’s desire to return to the game he loves. 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, he hung in there and won a gold medal at the 2008 Games.
He’s still at the top of his game.
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 a while, the unexpected does happen.
– Scott Russell is the Host of CBC Sports Weekend seen Saturday afternoons. He has covered professional and amateur sports including nine Olympic games and numerous world championships.