Theo Fleury will be taking a big step in his attempted career comeback tonight, as he takes the ice tonight in an NHL game for the first time in six years.
“It will be a special evening,” said Fleury following Wednesday’s on-ice session. "I don’t know at this point how I’m going to react to the situation, how I’m going to react to the crowd, but it’s going to be emotional.
“I had a nice conversation with my wife last night and we’re just trying to continue to take this one day at a time.” said Fleury. "I’m trying to stay as calm as possible. It’s not easy – it’s been a crazy week. Last week I was in Phoenix hoping to get here, and here I am a week later getting to play in a game.
“I’ve worked really hard to get to this point and I look at Thursday night as a real big point in my training camp process. We’ll see what I can do now.”
As Robert Cleave of Matchsticks and Gasoline notes, Fleury’s appearance tonight has caused a circus in Calgary that is overshadowing the debut of the biggest free agent acquisition of the season, defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. While he happy to see Fleury doing well so far, he’s not so certain this is a temporary raucous that will blow over once the 41-year old is overwhelmed after taking the ice against real competition.
As I mentioned earlier, under any other scenario, this would be a night for Flames’ fans to concentrate on the arrival of a highly touted free agent defenceman, but tonight will be the opposite of normal, at least to begin with. After the rapturous welcome that Theoren Fleury will receive from the patrons tonight fades and the game begins, we’ll see what he has left, and if there’s any point to his continuing. Whether he succeeds on the ice or not is somewhat trivial to me at this point, but it certainly doesn’t appear to be trivial to him, and with that in mind, I hope he does well. If nothing else, it will spice up what would normally be just another practice game for a team who’s roster is likely set. The game will once again be streamed on the Flames’ website if you live in the normal TV footprint, starting at 7 PM MT.