Hi there; I'm writing an article for Impact magazine in Calgary about Theo Fleury and his recent book 'Playing with Fire' and I just wanted to get a feel for the lasting impressions the guy left on the fanbases where he wasn't the beloved figure he was in Calgary.
Clearly there won't be much in the way of adoration, but when you read even a little bit of this book, it's chilling to hear what he went through with Graham James in Moose Jaw. It shouldn't surprise anyone that a young teenager going through that sort of stuff didn't have his head on right afterwards, especially a guy with so much going against him.
I won't pretend to excuse or defend anything Fleury did during his time with the Rangers or any other team, I was just curious to see how he was remembered outside of the place where he was an icon.
Personally, I remember him as a gritty player who was liked by us in his time here because of how small and gritty we are. Now, bear in mind that it was tough times. This was the era of Lindros, Fleury and York so we didn't exactly have a lot of success. Nonethless, Fluery was a nice, gritty player.
I remember him always giving it his all on the ice and showing so much emotion!!! The chicken dance with sandy was priceless.
I also remember him giving a TV interview one time and he was wearing glasses, but just the frames there were no lenses.
He was a very talented individual that played on edge, I wish he could have been a ranger before his problems got so bad. I was happy to see him get straight and it sure sounded as if he played real well at his tryout for the flames a couple years ago and I wish they gave him a one year contract.
i think that theo was always someone for the 'little guys' (both underdogs in general and physically small guys) could look up to. i was around 12 when he joined the rangers and i was pretty small as a kid, so i really took a liking to him and his gritty style of play. a few years later when i found out about his substance abuse i was taken aback and really didn't like him, i really felt betrayed.
but i read playing with fire and my perception to him has definitely warmed again after what he went through and such. obviously not to excuse him for the stuff that he did, but he didn't have it easy and i hope he can keep clean
Hard not to like him but he was a loose cannon--especially that last year. You just knew there was something wrong with his life. His last games--he just seemed driven by rage and took some of the most ****ed up penalties that I've ever seen anyone take and I've been following the Rangers for almost 40 years. I will say he never dogged it and that he loved the game.
Theo was Theo...He wore his emotions on the ice and I think most Ranger fans will agree that emotion on the ice is a good thing. Anyone that dons the Broadway Blue and plays hard will be adored by the garden faithful, Theo was no different, he played hard and the FLY line was one of the best in the league until he fell off the wagon that last year...
There was the good and bad with Theo. Those were some tough years but he provided a lot of entertainment and played his heart out. He was near the top of the league in scoring in 2000-01 before he checked himself into rehab.
I always appreciated his effort and passion, but there were some moments like the chicken dance, the infamous shorthanded goal/taunting of Brodeur picture, punching the Sharks mascot, and when he just left a game vs. the Penguins that my only reaction was like "WTF?"
Also of interest was that John Tortorella sent him home for the rest of the 1999-00 season because he showed up late to practice.
In any event, good guy, very happy that he got his name on the Cup with Calgary, wish he could've done more here, and I hope he can have a very long and healthy life and help addicts and people who have suffered sexual abuse along the way.
Fan favorite. Hes similar to Sean Avery. Love him if hes on your team, despise him if hes not. Fleury was an outstanding player for us, and he was on the team when I started seriously following the Rangers and let me tell you, it was guys like Fleury who made the dark years of the Rangers bareable.
He was still a very good hockey player, a lot of stars came to NY but could get it done without a supporting cast (we had a crazy star/garbage player ratio) but Fleury could get it done by himself.
Anyway, I followed the team very closely during that frame and my overall impression was just NEGATIVE. We were nothing but a mess. From the top to the bottom, people just did not take their responsibility. And as a fan, you always felt it.
I don't think I would have told you this back then, but in hindsight, it's very obvious. I mean, even with guys who had their fair share of flaws like Jagr, Nylander and Straka -- you could still feel at the end of the day, what mattered were hockey. The team(s) we had during his era probably still cared for a cup run -- but the road from October to March just weren't on top of the agenda.
And while Theo still played the only game he knew in NY -- because he certainly did -- it was still with a lack of concentration. The focus was not there.
Fleury didn't want to play in New York. He wanted to remain in the west. The Rangers 3 year/$21M offer was the only legit offer on the table. Neil Smith and Dave Checketts flew to Fleury's cottage in British Columbia to sell him on New York. Fleury destroyed any chance he had of re-signing with the Avs after not being able to play in a playoff game against the Stars. Fleury was reportedly out with the flu but other reports said he was too drunk. Fleury's marriage blew apart in NY. His wife was a Calgary girl and she missed her family. They lived in Greenwich,CT.
Fleury was an erratic personality. He didn't get along with John Muckler. Partied too much. There was a picture of Fleury and Jason Priestley(90210)in the Post from a bar in Manhattan. They looked drunk. There was one game where Fleury wasn't on the bench to start a period. Later it was reported,Fleury was arguing with his wife on the phone. He walked out on the team during a game against Pittsburgh. Sam and JD were asking each other about Fleury. Is he hurt? Did you see anything Sammy? Maybe our crew in the truck can look at the tape. It was funny and sad.
In December 2001,he attacked the Sharks mascot Sharkie during a game. Eric Lindros suffered his first concussion as a Ranger in that game on a hit by Mark Smith. It was a nothing hit. Fleury went after Smith later in the game and got tossed from the game. On his way to the dressing room,Fleury assaulted Sharkie who reportedly suffered a rib injury. Fleury was out of control. Glen Sather reached out to Dean Lombardi and they worked out a financial settlement. The Rangers paid for Sharkie's medical bills and who knows what else to keep the Sharks from pressing charges.
The Rangers were a freaking zoo at the time anyway so Fleury fit in. I liked him as much as I could like anyone on that aimless joke of a team. They were going through the motions with no commitment to putting together a winning team and Fleury felt like that as well. He played hard because that's what made him happy but when he wasn't happy he did whatever he wanted on the ice.
I actually liked him and Lindros and McCarthy but I also knew that it was more entertainment than serious pursuit of the Cup.
He might have been a great character, but he lacked character. He quit on this team. He broke sticks. He took himself out of games. He went after a mascot. That seems to get glossed over.
His demons didn't stand a chance against NYC.
More like he lacked self control and I agree NYC was not a good fit. If I remember his marraige had fallen apart and he had a kid back in Calgary--these things kept on intruding and eventually he started drinking and taking drugs again. He was unable to get a grip on things. The Rangers might have had a chance back then if he could have and if Lindros wasn't a concussion waiting to happen. Rangers had a habit of picking up other teams problems then. Ultimately these were experiments that failed.
He was like a little wrecking ball out there plowing into goalies and getting under players skin... He and McCarthy were great entertainment. I remember his celebrations were comprable to prospals.
Loved watching him play.
Was this thread made for me? Except I'm probably not the best measure...
I loved Theo when he was in Calgary thanks to a hockey card and NHL 95. When he came to NYR I was heading off to college and it was like a dream come true...except it wasn't, because the team was not great, and Theo eventually fell apart.
That season he went into rehab was making up for the shaky start with the Rangers - Theo was right behind Joe Sakic for the league scoring lead, and kicked ass in the all-star game. It was awesome, but then he abruptly went into rehab and for all practical purposes ended his career.
I had no clue what was going on behind the scenes, although there definitely were times where Theo was kind of over-the-top: like when he gave the finger to the Islanders fans. I would imagine most people were like me, and not sure of the full extent of his off-ice issues. RangerBoy is very knowledgeable, I doubt most fans knew all of the stuff he just mentioned at the time.
Ultimately I think Theo was liked, there were so many under-performers on his Ranger teams that he wasn't the sole focus of the discontent. The whole era was just a lost opportunity, and minor tragedy, and he represents that, just like Bure and his knee and Lindros and the concussions.