Fleury doesn't care what you think about his comeback bid

Jean Lefebvre
August 08 2009 10:08AM

Here's what Theoren Fleury said to the Calgary Herald's George Johnson on Friday night about the expected public reaction to Fleury's attempted NHL comeback:

“I honestly don’t give a shit what people think of me. I don’t. People say I should get a life? Hey, worry about your own lives. This is mine. When you’ve gone through the 12 stages of Alcoholics Anoymous, you realize that you’ve got to be OK with yourself. I am. I’ve come to the realization that 50 per cent of the people like me, and 50 per cent don’t. Guess what? I’m hanging out with the 50 per cent who do.

“I’m a busy guy. I’m not doing this because I have nothing else in my life. I do public speaking. I work with Native people. With the Dream Centre. I’m doing this partly because I didn’t go out the way I wanted to. And partly because I’ve watched this for five years and believe in my heart that there’s still a place for me."

Let's face it, it’s so easy to casually dismiss Theoren Fleury and anything his name is attached to.

Let’s face it, the undersized and overactive Fleury is this close to being a Warner Brothers cartoon character on the order of Elmer Fudd, Speedy Gonzalez and Pepe Le Pew.

Fleury hasn’t played a National Hockey League game in more than four years and yet his name has never strayed very far from the headlines, usually involving stories that have everyone wondering: “Geez, what will that little runt do next?”

From his senior hockey adventures with the Horse Lake Thunder — a stint that inspired the following modest quote, complete with third-person reference:

“The only reason this (Allan Cup) tournament sold out was because of yours truly right here. We all know it and I'm going to say it: Once again Theo Fleury puts hockey on the map when it needs it the most” — to his overseas work with the Belfast Giants to his cameo stint with the Calgary Vipers, an independent minor-league baseball team, to a speculated reality TV show based on his fledgling concrete flooring company to his recent announcement that he’s contemplating an NHL comeback at age 41, much of Fleury’s life has that whiff of ripe Saturday Night Live scripts. Hell, Fleury’s infamous scrape with San Jose mascot SJ Sharkie pretty much was one of the classic SNL Land Shark skits, wasn’t it?

What’s more, Fleury’s troubled past makes it easy for people who have never met the little man to assume an air of smug superiority and join in the “Sideshow Theo” namecalling. If there’s one reason to refrain from piling on, it’s the opinions you get about Fleury from the people who knew him best. Just talk to anyone who knew him from the old days in Calgary, whether it’s Terry Crisp, his old coach; Cliff Fletcher, the man who drafted Fleury against the wishes of his scouting staff; Flames broadcaster Peter Maher or former teammates.

Oh sure, they shook their heads at his attention-seeking antics and expressed disappointment that Fleury too often and too spectacularly strayed from the straight and narrow, but listen to them closely and the genuine fondness they have for the little dude is unmistakable. One veteran Calgary writer, who takes pride in being a curmudgeon and is quick to point out the arrogant jerks and phonies in the sport, unabashedly admits he likes Fleury.

A couple of years ago, Fleury made a rare appearance at the Saddledome and even though he was the smallest man in the lobby outside the Flames dressing room, the former No. 14 was the centre of attention. The ensuing informal monologue was typical Fleury. Today’s game isn’t nearly as good as when he played, said Fleury. He claimed not to remember the last time he had skated. In short (no pun intended) Fleury insisted that he didn’t need the game and that he didn’t miss it a lick. He even went so far as to proclaim he hated hockey.

Moments after making his exit from the room, one of the bemused listeners remarked: “That’s funny, I saw Theo playing a pickup game at the community arena a couple of nights ago.” A nice act maybe, but Fleury wasn’t fooling anyone, probably not even himself. Sure enough, within a few months, word came down that Fleury was heading to Northern Ireland to chase pucks once again. Now he wants to do it in the NHL again.

Fleury’s comeback bid may be implausible. It may be impractical. Given his age and his still-unresolved disciplinary matters with the league, it may even be a few tiny degrees shy of impossible.

But in a week that many fans and even more media members are bemoaning the retirement of the colourful and quotable Jeremy Roenick, the possible second coming of Fleury isn’t such a bad thing, is it? The guy has already proven hundreds of scouts wrong by having a 455-goal, 1,088-point career. And while the claims that he’s been clean and sober for the past four years will be greeted with the expected amount of skepticism, Fleury has also proven wrong any of the doomsayers who predicted Fleury would be found lying in a ditch or in a dark alley soon after his separation from the security blanket that was his professional career. After spending time with people who know Fleury and continued to support him and wish him well despite all the dark clouds that always seemed to follow him and all the second chances he frittered away, it’s hard not to root for one more in-your-face chapter.

As ex-Flame Perry Berezan told the Herald: "Certainly, I’m going to root for him. I think most people will. You always want to see an underdog do well."

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Lefebvre is in that awkward stage of hockey following -- old enough to fondly remember the Cleveland Barons and too set in his ways to accept charity points and games where there's a winner but apparently no loser. As a long-time ink-stained wretch, he's also a firm believer in the old Bobby Knight quote about journalists: "All of us learn to write in second grade, but most of us go on to better things."
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#51 DizzyD
August 08 2009, 10:25PM
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Harlie wrote:

@ Travis Dakin: no worries, man. And it will be GO TIME at the next ON party. Oh H.E double toothpick yeah!!

we have parties?....sorry but I'm new in this hood..

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#52 Harlie
August 08 2009, 10:28PM
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On behalf of the Metis Association of Alberta I would like to thank Mr. Jack Daniels for all his contributions to the native people.

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#53 whitey
August 08 2009, 10:58PM
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fleury was quoted as saying on a radio stn in Calgary that the thing he hated the most and that would keep him away from hockey today is the amount of training and conditioning the new-nhl player has to do. hmmmmm. So multiple years of substance abuse, age, size, etc. We all like a comeback story Rocky but what club is going to roll the dice on this? maybe a team with very poor ticket sales and where the Fleury name has some sort of cache. Seems Calgary or nothing.

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#54 whitey
August 08 2009, 11:02PM
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@ All Native Debaters

alcoholism, abuse, etc are not native/white issues they are people issues.

We have to be sympathetic to those dealing with these demons and the people affected and we need to help them regardless of skin color, sex, etc.

peace

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#55 Chris
August 08 2009, 11:54PM
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pilks wrote:

Mostly it is self distruction, lazyness and blaming what happened to you 100 years ago.

This is an ignorent and uninformed opinion. Aborigionals weren't allowed to vote in this country until 1960. (Hardly a hundred years ago) Canadian governments forcibly removed 150 000 children from their families and sent them to boarding schools designed to "integrate" them into Canadian society. Harassment, neglect, and outright abuse, sexual and otherwise was commonplace... Do you think some of these people might be justified in harboring ill will? The last of these schools wasn't shutdown untill 1996... Fleury was in his nineth full NHL season before the last of these children were sent home to their families.

This is a hockey website. I hate that I was drawn into a race discussion. You won't here any more from me on the matter. I believe that people need to take responsibility for their own lives and not blame others... But let's not delude ourselves into thinking that government transgressions agains certain minorities happened hundreds of years ago.

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#56 Bill Rizer
August 09 2009, 12:36AM
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I feel like I'd rather talk about Dany Heatley than read half these comments. That's a new low.

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#57 Jaime
August 09 2009, 01:16AM
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Yeah, I'm done here. Fleury doesn't care what I think, and I don't care what any of you think about the state of First Nations peoples in this country. This is a hockey blog, let's talk hockey.

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#58 viss.99
August 09 2009, 01:18AM
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As much as I hate the Flames, he was a great player, too bad on how his career fell of the radar, I wonder if he get into the HALL OF FAME?

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#59 David S
August 09 2009, 03:59AM
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Chris wrote:

I hate that I was drawn into a race discussion.

We were all drawn into this by some guy making like it was the white people who are the cause of all his pain.

Sorry. Most of here are of the thought that if you drive yourself into the dumper, its up to YOU to get yourself out. Doesn't matter who you are.

I've worked with "aboriginal" guys. They busted their gut and tried to make something of their lives, just like any of us. I looked at them as people, not as "aboriginal", and they earned my respect for doing so.

Excuses are done. Get off the pity bandwagon and get to work, just like the rest of us. When you do, you'll earn the respect you so vocally demand.

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#60 Rev
August 09 2009, 10:16AM
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I’ve come to the realization that 50 per cent of the people like me, and 50 per cent don’t. Guess what? I’m hanging out with the 50 per cent who do.

This explains why he has not made millions in Vegas - he can't guess the odds very well...

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#61 typol99
August 09 2009, 11:39AM
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theo will tune u so watch ur ass sea bazzzzzz

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#62 Deans
August 09 2009, 01:11PM
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Am i the only person rooting for this guy? Theo is a class act and has charisma for days (something most NHL players lack in spades) and I really hope he can have a productive season.

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#63 Deans
August 09 2009, 01:12PM
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@ Harlie: Ths was an ugly comment. Your attempts at humour are archacic and stupid. F**K YOU

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#64 Deans
August 09 2009, 01:16PM
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@ Chris: Good Point Chris. A couple more points people need to understand. These Residential Schools also had numerous reports of sexual abuse. The parents visiting their children were not allowed to speak in their native tounges, therefore a whole generation lost a link to their parents and their culture. I would call it an intentional cultural rapping. That's just the past, there are still many reminants of our racist colonial past present in all sectors of society.

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#65 Apps
August 09 2009, 01:18PM
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I've always likes Theo Fleury even when he played for the godless Phlegms. He has dealt with a lot of adversity in his life. The odds may be against him in landing another NHL gig but I certainly wish him well.

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#66 Deans
August 09 2009, 01:29PM
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David S wrote:

Excuses are done. Get off the pity bandwagon and get to work, just like the rest of us. When you do, you’ll earn the respect you so vocally demand.

Yes individuals need to take responsibility but to pretend this is the ONLY barrier to social equality and justice is just not accurate. There are still many social structures that restrict many people in the lower class from living a fulfilling lifestyle. What about the people who personify the Protestant Work Ethic but still make sh*t wages due to the mass explotation of big corporations. There are many people (I know a few) who work two bad jobs, take the bus to and fro, and still manage to put food on there tables. Unfortunatly it takes an extremely conscientious and determined person to thrive let alone survive in these economic conditions. Not everyone is capable of living this demanding lifestyle (including myself). Untill we, as a society, make it possible everyone to make a decent living (those who are willing to work full time)the old consevative argument that these people need to just pull themselves up by the bootstraps, doesnt apply.

And if you really believe that racism is non existent and doesnt, still systemically influence many aspects of our society, then I would suggest that you take a good hard look at the society we live in. Perhaps you should start with the Criminal Justice System.

I dont intend to come off as morally superior or to suggest that you're morally corrupt due to your post. You simply stated your opinion and I simply stated mine. Cheers

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#67 Librarian Mike
August 09 2009, 01:31PM
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@ Deans: Well said. I heard a quote about how it was 7 generations of damage done to the Aboriginal population, and that it'll take 7 to undo it.

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#68 Mike Cardinal
August 09 2009, 02:35PM
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Harlie wrote:

On behalf of the Metis Association of Alberta I would like to thank Mr. Jack Daniels for all his contributions to the native people.

Pretty sick buddy, grab a life. Stat for you 72% of the members of AA are caucasia. Do you fall into that category?

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#69 Archaeologuy
August 09 2009, 02:46PM
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Harlie already mentioned once on here that someone pretended to be him and posted some seriously off-colour stuff. If that was him then it was a douchey comment, if someone is pretending to be him then that person is an ass.

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#70 David S
August 09 2009, 03:02PM
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Deans wrote:

...the old consevative argument that these people need to just pull themselves up by the bootstraps, doesn't apply.

How about this. Take out the word "these", then it does apply. A just society should provide the opportunities for everyone to succeed while putting the onus on all members of society to be accountable for their own levels of success. At the same time, that same society should support those who can't support themselves (the mentally or physically disabled, sick and elderly).

What was done is done. Yeah, we're all sorry about it and countless billions has been squandered in an effort to make reparations. Fine. At some point the "you owe us" arguments are going to run out of steam (if they haven't already). Maybe its time to take on a little personal accountability and start moving forward instead of leaning on a past long gone.

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#71 Robin Brownlee
August 09 2009, 03:59PM
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Any chance people can stick to commenting on something loosely to do with hockey instead of going on and on and on and on and on and on in reaction to two comments (1 and 6) that were such broad-brush generalizations they didn't even deserve a reaction -- most of which are equally vague -- in the first place?

What we don't need is amateur hour on social, political and aborgional issues on a hockey website regardless of how bored people are right now. Are we going to get OT threads next? Need help with home brain surgery . . . Just shut it.

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#72 Harlie
August 09 2009, 07:18PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Harlie already mentioned once on here that someone pretended to be him and posted some seriously off-colour stuff. If that was him then it was a douchey comment, if someone is pretending to be him then that person is an ass.

it was someone else, once again. I tried not responding this time to hopefully tire out and stop feeding the flames on whoever is using my name. The people who responded to the ugly posts were 100% correct in their comments. I did not take the criticism personally because it wasn't me. Grab a life whoever is doing it.

And thanks Arch. I got your back anytime mano!

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#73 Sandra
August 09 2009, 07:21PM
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Sandra wrote:

He’s an Aboriginal, He will be back.

All I meant by this was he will try his hardest to succeed, People blew this out of context, I my self am am Aboriginal. Fluery has fought the bottle and he has been sober for over 4 years, Our people have programs and steps that try to help individuals succeed and get back on track. Even if Fluery doesn't get back to the NHL, he has still succeeded in fighting his demons. That's it! people please this should not have been taken blown up, we are all humans and children of God, all one to him.

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#74 Archaeologuy
August 09 2009, 07:22PM
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@ Harlie: np, its a problem that more than one person has come across because there isnt a password protecting our handles.

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#75 Archaeologuy
August 09 2009, 07:24PM
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@ Sandra: ~jeez, now you're starting a religion tangent too?!~

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#76 Sandra
August 09 2009, 07:26PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Sandra: ~jeez, now you’re starting a religion tangent too?!~

Grow up man, I am just cheering for him.

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#77 Archaeologuy
August 09 2009, 07:30PM
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@ Sandra:

the "~" is for sarcasm. I wasnt serious.

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#78 Harlie
August 09 2009, 07:56PM
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@ Archaeologuy: @ Sandra:

all I was gonna say is...geez Sandra you walk away for the weekend and see what happens! You leave one post and boom 77 replies later!! Welcome back and thanks for clarifying. And how about that Dejarlais kid!?

And Arch, keep on keepin on.

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#79 Harlie
August 09 2009, 07:59PM
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and in other news...another millionaire f's it up big time. Patrick Kane allegedly beat up a Cabbie over 20 cents. Maybe that's why our Khabbi got out of Chi town!

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#80 Sandra
August 09 2009, 09:43PM
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Harlie wrote:

@ Archaeologuy: @ Sandra: all I was gonna say is…geez Sandra you walk away for the weekend and see what happens! You leave one post and boom 77 replies later!! Welcome back and thanks for clarifying. And how about that Dejarlais kid!? And Arch, keep on keepin on.

There was a great Pow Wow here at Beaver Lake First Nations this week end. You missed some great dancing and singing.

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#81 Les
August 09 2009, 10:25PM
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Wow!!!, Harlie, you need to get educated before you make comments like that, talk about lack of emotional intelligence.......very disappointing for a site of this calibre.

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#82 Ender the Dragon
August 10 2009, 08:33AM
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Here's an interesting quote from Eric Francis, Sun Media:

With the retirement of Roenick came suggestions he's a slam dunk for the Hockey Hall of Fame due to his numbers and contributions to the game. Funny then that no one is beating the drum for Fleury to earn similar accolades. He's got better numbers than ol' J.R. as well as a Stanley Cup ring and Olympic gold.

He's right. Neither of them should be there.

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#83 Harlie
August 10 2009, 08:51AM
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@ Les:

why don't you read the post above before you start running your mouth on what I allegedely (i didnn't!) say, and what that meant to this site and the posters on here as a whole.

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#84 bingofuel
August 10 2009, 09:55AM
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Interesting to note: the Harlie imposter was posting from the same IP as Shaun Waskahat.

Let's try and avoid the temptation of spoofing other user names. Don't feed the trolls.

Sincerely,

Wanye Gr... I mean bingofuel.

PS: Please continue talking about hockey. <3

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#85 Fiveandagame
August 10 2009, 10:43AM
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Hockey is awesome....

I went to the Hockey Hall of Fame today in the center on the Universe...

The Stanley cup is wicked retarded awesome. Gift Shop officially blows...

Hockey Rulz. GOILERS!!!!

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#86 Harlie
August 10 2009, 11:03AM
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bingofuel wrote:

Interesting to note: the Harlie imposter was posting from the same IP as Shaun Waskahat.

Thanks Bingofuel. I figured as much. Shaun, if your reading this I call a truce ok? No hard feelings on my end. Please end the spoofing. Thanks!

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#87 Travis Dakin
August 10 2009, 11:40AM
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bingofuel wrote:

Interesting to note: the Harlie imposter was posting from the same IP as Shaun Waskahat.

Holy man I was wondering when you were going to pipe up and save the day. Once against Uncle bingofuel, you are a god among men.

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#88 bingofuel
August 10 2009, 11:43AM
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@ Travis Dakin:

Yeah, sorry I wasn't around this weekend. I needed some me time. Well, more like "me and some back-issues of Swank" time.

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#89 The Towel Boy
August 10 2009, 11:57AM
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@ bingofuel:

You are NEVER allowed to leave again!

*wraps arms around bingofuel's leg*

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#90 JRyanMac
August 10 2009, 01:26PM
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@ The Towel Boy: Shouldn't be too hard to get stuck on that leg after a whole weekend of Swank-time. yiiiiikes

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#91 MrOiler
August 10 2009, 01:59PM
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Theoren Fleury: 10 cent brain, million dollar heart.

I'm cheering for the million dollar heart. As much as I disliked the guy in a Flames jersey, I hope he makes it. There's nothing like a "beats the odds" story.

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#92 DanMan
August 10 2009, 05:24PM
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Fleury isn't even full native. That doesn't count.

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