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Fleury doing his part to make NHL comeback a reality

TSN.ca Staff

8/11/2009 12:00:36 AM

Although the odds are stacked against him, Theoren Fleury is hoping for a return to the National Hockey League.

The 41-year-old has been working out with a personal trainer and skating in Calgary in an attempt to get back into game shape and land an invite to training camp.

"If I get to play, period - I don't care where it is. I just want to play," Fleury said on Monday.

"The end goal is to someday, some how, some way get back."

In his prime, Fleury was one of the NHL's top players, twice breaking the 100-point plateau in a season. Over his 1,084 NHL games, he scored 455 goals with 633 assists and 1,840 penalty minutes. He also had 34 goals and 45 assists over his 77 career playoff games. But, his 100-point seasons came in the early 1990's and he has not played in an NHL game six seasons, last seeing action with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2002-03.

"You always want to see guys play as long as they can," said Calgary Flames defenceman Cory Sarich. "It sure makes a heck of a story if a guy can pull something like that off." 

Players in their forties are not new to the NHL; Chris Chelios played last season at the age of 47 and Claude Lemieux made a comeback of his own, playing 18 games for the Sharks in 2008-09.

In addition to the physical demands of playing at professional hockey's highest level, Fleury must also contend with other issues, as he was suspended indefinitely in October of 2002 for violating the NHL's aftercare program.

In order to be reinstated, Fleury would need to be cleared by the NHL and the former star has already made contact with the league.

"All I can control right now is what I have been doing and when it comes time for them to either decide or not to decide, then I'll deal with the consequences."

As for motivation, Fleury points to the way things ended with his NHL career.

"The initial reason I did it was because I did not want to retire as a suspended player," he explained.

"I have to believe somewhere, someway that I can do this otherwise there is no sense in me putting in the work and not expecting to achieve the end goal."