The NHL is set to announce its 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame induction class on Wednesday. There are many incredible and iconic players drawing consideration, like Jarome Iginla, Daniel Alfredsson, and Alexander Mogilny, who is especially deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame. Among a growing list of players who have been passed over for years, Calgary Flames legend Theo Fleury has earned hockey’s most prestigious honor after a remarkable career.
Why Theo Fleury deserves enshrinement in the Hockey Hall of Fame
Theoren Fleury heard it all in his career. He was too small to play in the NHL, not strong enough to survive. Simply put, he just couldn’t make it. These are things the 5-foot-6 winger heard as he fought his way onto the Flames, ultimately winning a Stanley Cup in his rookie season. He wasn’t just a role player either, scoring 11 points in 22 games during a remarkable playoff run. After winning the Cup, his career caught fire and he eventually finished with 1,088 points in 1,084 games. Fleury also came up clutch when it mattered, recording 79 points in 77 playoff games. Those stats alone are worthy of induction, but they don’t even capture his entire story of overcoming the odds.
Theo Fleury Battled Demons
Many didn’t know that the small kid with the big smile and zest for the game was battling demons. In 1997, former Detroit Red Wings player Sheldon Kennedy told the press that he and others were sexually abused by their minor league coach, Graham James. Theo Fleury had played for James during that time, but it wasn’t until 2009 when he admitted in his autobiography – “Playing With Fire” – that he was abused as well. This admission started to explain his downward spiral and the use of drugs and alcohol that derailed his career. Unfortunately, his fall was on full display during his time with the New York Rangers until he retired in 2003.
Theo Fleury is now a motivational speaker and helps those battling mental illness all over the world. He is hockey’s version of the proverbial Phoenix rising from the ashes to fly again. It’s time for Fleury to be recognized in immortality with a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame.