Theoren Fleury has made it official, calling it a career today, and coming full circle as he retires a Calgary Flame, the same team he started his NHL career with more than two decades ago. Fleury was released last week after a spirited comeback bid that had many longtime Flames fans cheering him on. However, at the not-so-tender age of 41, and competing against 14 forwards all on one way contracts, the odds of Fleury cracking the Flames roster were slim indeed, and though he was certainly a fan favorite ultimately GM Darryl Sutter and coach Brent Sutter had to do what was best for the team, and gave Fleury his walking papers.
Fleury broke into the NHL with the Flames back in the 1988-89 season and immediately proved he could be an impact player despite his diminutive size, potting 34 points in 36 regular season and additional 11 playoff points in helping the Flames to the franchises first and only Stanley Cup championship that spring. Fleury would continue playing with the club until 1999, scoring 830 points over that span, the second highest career total in club history behind only Jarome Iginla's 851. With the Flames Fleury twice eclipsed 100 points, and had his best season in 1990-91, scoring 51 goals.
In 1999 he was dealt to the Colorado Avalanche, and from there had stops with the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks. However, ongoing substance abuse problems ultimately saw him exit the NHL in 2003.
Fleury retires with over 1,000 NHL games under his belt, and during that time he averaged better than a point per game in both the regular season and the playoffs. He will certainly be remembered as one of the most popular players ever to suit up for the Calgary Flames, and there can be little dispute that he is one of the best "small guys" to ever play in the NHL.
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