The verdict is in. After a much-publicized attempt at an NHL comeback, Theoren Fleury has been released by the Calgary Flames.
The team released a statement on Friday confirming the decision and GM Darryl Sutter spoke with TSN afterwards.
"There was a decision made here this morning that, for Theo to play here, he was going to have to fit into our top six wingers," Sutter said. "He didn't have the capabilities to do so. It had nothing to do with Theo's heart or his mind for the game because I learned a lot here the last two weeks just being around him...His work ethic and everything involved every day was great. It's unfortunate that when you haven't played the game for six years, and at the age he's at, that the legs just aren't where they need to be."
Fleury was gracious in his response.
"I am very thankful to Darryl and the Flames organization for following through on the commitment to provide me with this opportunity," Fleury said in a statement. "I said in the beginning that no matter what the outcome, this would be a success story. I intend to take the next few days to review this experience and make decisions with my family regarding next steps in my life."
Fleury said he will have a press conference on Monday but would not commit on whether he would be retiring from the game or looking for another NHL team to play with.
"I need a couple of days," Fleury told TSN.
"If he really wants to (keep playing), there are probably opportunities," said forward Craig Conroy. "Claude Lemieux, in that situation, went to the minors and he got called up. Theo could easily do that if he wants to. I mean, it all is up to him. Obviously he wanted to make this team now but I think there are opportunities for him out there and someone will give him a chance."
Flames forward Jarome Iginla also weighed in on Fleury's journey with an optimistic outlook.
"To be able to come back at 41 and look as good as he did and does to put the work in that he did," Iginla said. "He was saying he was in the best shape of his life. To do that after not playing for six years at this high of a level, it's great...He loves the game and loves to compete. We're happy that as players in the camp we got to come and compete alongside him again."
The 41-year-old had generated attention league-wide with his spirited effort in the pre-season, putting up four points in an attempt to crack the Flames' final roster.
"It was the buzz of the city," said Conroy. "It's disappointing because the reality was, coming in, there were 14 forwards on a one-way contract and it makes it tough for someone to come in and take a job but he did a great job,. "I don't know what's going to happen now for Theo but it was fun to watch, fun to be around him, the stories. He's a good guy so I wish him well."
Sutter, who used to play with Fleury, said he was "darn proud" of the Oxbow, Saskatchewan native for his efforts.
"This isn't just about hockey, it is about life and where he's at right now in his life and I'm really proud of him. I told him when I met with him this morning that he's welcome anytime inside my office toc ome and sit down and talk," Sutter said.
The 5'6 sniper was drafted by the team 166th overall in the eighth round of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft.
He brought home the franchise's last Stanley Cup back in 1989. In 1990-91, Fleury had 51 goals and 53 assists for a career-high 104 points. He had NHL seven seasons with more than 70 points and was a seven-time All-Star. He had over 1000 games of NHL experience with four teams.