If forced to describe Theoren Fleury in one sentence during his NHL career, one would likely use the words troubled, conflicted, gifted and of course, mouthy. Most fans, journalists, fellow players and management couldn't stand Theoren Fleury, particularly Rangers and Blackhawks fans/brass. But one has to wonder, if we knew about Fleury's problems then, would many still despise him, relate to him or feel for him? I think the answer lies in the latter.
Having said that, the last thing Theoren Fleury would want is for people's pity. But there is another way to support him: to push for his election into the Hockey Hall of Fame. If we look at his stats, Fleury is worthy of Hall of Fame consideration. His 1,088 points in 1,084 games is proof of that. And while those numbers are not outstanding, any player who averages a point per game in over 1,000 games is worthy of at the very least, consideration. Many would even argue that 1,000 points should guarantee you a spot in the Hall.
Now, let's take into account the fact that Fleury missed significant amounts of time dealing with substance abuse and personal issues while trying to rid himself of his demons. Had he played a full, healthy and problem-free career, I believe Fleury could have eclipsed the 600 goal plateau and made a push for the 1,300 point mark. A mark that Mats Sundin, with an identical points per game average as Fleury, became a first ballot Hall of Famer this year.
Theo eclipsed the 100-point barrier in a season on 2 occasions. Scored 40 or more goals on 3 occasions, including a career-high 51 goals in the 1990-91 season. Fleury also scored 79 points in 77 playoff games, which puts him on even pace with his regular season totals. Fleury was a 7-time NHL All-Star, NHL 2nd-team all star, NHL Plus-Minus Award winner and most importantly, a Stanley Cup Champion as a member of the Calgary Flames. His points per game would put him 50th in NHL history, and his 1,088 points places him 57th on the all-time list.
Fleury also won World Junior gold, while being named to the tournament All-Star game, 1991 Canada Cup winner and of course, won a gold medal as a member of Team Canada at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
If these accomplishments are not enough to induct Theo Fleury into the Hall because of his ill-conceived attitude, consider this: his current work off the ice to help fellow victims of sexual abuse is second to none, he is constantly touring North America trying to help those he can, and spreading the message to speak up about these matters. His drug and alcohol abuse are a thing of the past. And, he recently had the courage to finally help put Graham James behind bars. And although the term of James' sentence was nowhere near long enough, Fleury did the right thing by coming forward and helping convict this felon. Preventing harm to countless other potential victims. Theo Fleury is making an attempt to do the right thing.
Now it's time for the Hockey Hall of Fame Board of Directors to do the right thing: induct Theo Fleury into the Hockey Hall of Fame. It may not occur for a few more years with the recent amount of talent retiring from the game, but in time, it absolutely should happen. Because let's face it, Fleury was one of the elite players from his generation, and it's time he gets recognized as such. And if any of you have watched his documentary "Playing With Fire", you would know that there is nothing he would appreciate more.