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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#1 Sandra
August 08 2009, 10:15AM
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He's an Aboriginal, He will be back.

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#2 Gunner
August 08 2009, 10:26AM
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@ Sandra: What does that have to do with anything?

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#3 Archaeologuy
August 08 2009, 10:43AM
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@ Sandra: If he manages a comeback it will have everything to do with Tenacity, Hard Work and Talent, and nothing to do with his ethnicity.

If you want to suggest that his ethnicity dictates his return then it opens up the argument that it dictated his exit, and that isnt right.

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#4 Ogden Brother
August 08 2009, 11:01AM
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Good for Theo, hope he makes it.

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#5 Smitty
August 08 2009, 11:10AM
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Theo's been my favourite player since his rookie year. It broke my heart to see him leave Calgary and it hurt even worse to see him have to leave the league the way he did.

I'd love to see him try a comeback. IF there's one guy determined enough to do it, it's Fleury.

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#6 Shaun Waskahat
August 08 2009, 11:13AM
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I sence there is a lot of prejudice against the native people. It is the white man that has introduced them to most of thier problems, mostly alcohol. Why can't you people leave us alone. We will make it in anything we do. The Native people have the drive to succeed, and fight the demons of the white man.

Shaun Waskahat Big Stone.

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#7 Kent
August 08 2009, 11:16AM
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who takes pride in being a curmudgeon and is quick to point out the arrogant jerks and phonies in the sport...

Bruce Dowbiggen?

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#8 Dan
August 08 2009, 11:23AM
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He’s an Aboriginal, He will be back. What a bizarre and foolish comment.

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#9 Gunner
August 08 2009, 11:24AM
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@ Shaun Waskahat: What? You have got to be kidding..

Where is this prejudice you speak of? Most everyone on here says that they hope Theo well but the odds of him making it are severely steep.

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#10 Hemmertime
August 08 2009, 11:30AM
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Shaun Waskahat wrote:

The Native people have the drive to succeed, and fight the demons of the white man.

Not the place for the Great Native Debate. So lets just leave it where it is before people start arguing the opposite side of that argument and use logic and past history against you.

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#11 David S
August 08 2009, 11:30AM
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Shaun Waskahat wrote:

I sence there is a lot of prejudice against the native people. It is the white man that has introduced them to most of thier problems, mostly alcohol. Why can’t you people leave us alone. We will make it in anything we do. The Native people have the drive to succeed, and fight the demons of the white man.

Nice try at sidetracking the conversation to your own benefit.

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#12 Hemmertime
August 08 2009, 11:45AM
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I hope to see Theo in a Flames jersey, I would laugh my ass off and because of salary constraints he would be a cheap possibility. Then we can all debate whether playing short 3 forwards or playing with Theo is worse.

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#13 onehitwonder
August 08 2009, 12:06PM
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I'm in the 50% that thinks hes a dick. So would the management of the Flames i assume. He has been telling people Sutter called and asked him to play for the Bentley General's last year, when in fact it was the opposite. Who gets in a he said/ he said with a Sutter?

The only time i would buy a shooter for Theo, is if he was already on fire.

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#14 pilks
August 08 2009, 12:07PM
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Shaun Waskahat wrote:

I sence there is a lot of prejudice against the native people. It is the white man that has introduced them to most of thier problems, mostly alcohol. Why can’t you people leave us alone. We will make it in anything we do. The Native people have the drive to succeed, and fight the demons of the white man. Shaun Waskahat Big Stone.

AHHHh Another blame the white man for your problems. I have native friends some that have gone far and made a life for them selfs, but that is not the norm. Mostly it is self distruction, lazyness and blaming what happened to you 100 years ago. The native people would have been better off with out the outrages treaties and learned to live life like the rest of us, work hard and good things will happen. Not fill this form out and bam life is handed to you. What you put into life is what you get out of it. I hope for hockeys sake Theo the side show fleury does not make it past tieing up his laces.

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#15 Librarian Mike
August 08 2009, 12:09PM
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@ Shaun Waskahat:

I agree with you 100% that there is and has been shameful prejudice against Aboriginal People in Canada. It's the dark and dirty secret of our culture that we should remind ourselves of when we tout our superiority over other cultures.

That being said, I think that saying it's Whitey's fault that Fleury has a substance problem does him a disservice. Addicts who can't get past blaming others for their situations are the ones who never get clean.

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#16 Harlie
August 08 2009, 12:10PM
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@ Shaun Waskahat:

dude that argument is a hundred years old. Time for a new stance.

@ Sandra:

grow up and leave the stereotypes out of this. Sheldon Souray is one hell of a human being, a star on the ice and he happens to be Metis.

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#17 douggy
August 08 2009, 12:15PM
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well the flamers do need a goal scorer! hahahahahaha. oh and btw, the "white man" forced booze upon you? really? Cmon man! stop the nonsense and look at the statistics that come off of your reserves. the choice is strictly yours, not the white mans! and hey, if theo can do it...DON'T BLAME OTHERS!

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#18 Greg MC
August 08 2009, 12:22PM
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Remember game 6, 1991? I personally wanted to take his head off with a two hander when I watched that celebration, but I knew that I was watching a great talent and top competitor.

Good luck Theo!

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#19 Pokey Reddick
August 08 2009, 12:29PM
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Yes, it's always the white peoples fault for everything isn't it? That position is so old, it makes me sick. I am part Metis and I cannot stand the constant blame on white people for Aboriginal problems still. 200+ years of blaming white people...hmmm time to blame it on something else.

How about we leave finger pointing and politics out of this. I think deep down most are cheering for Fleury as a Human Being, and not because of his ethnic roots.

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#20 Harlie
August 08 2009, 01:06PM
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@ Pokey Reddick:

well said.

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#21 Garett
August 08 2009, 01:07PM
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At first it may have been the white man's fault, but now it is a government problem, the past national chief could not bring changes, let's hope the new one can. Integration of the entire aboriginal population into the regular society is a must. This business of being placed on reserves with unequal distribution of funds has created a nightmare that everyone seems to want to just brush aside. Where I am from, there r surrounding reserves that have 20+ people living in one house and no running water, my wife sees first hand the problems this can create as a pediatrics nurse. Something must be done about it via the government!

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#22 rob allan
August 08 2009, 01:35PM
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So whose fault is it when I drink?

Good luck Theo, I think you have been a tit, but it would be great to see things work out.

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#23 jeanshorts
August 08 2009, 01:42PM
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George Bush doesn't care about Native people.

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#24 Travis Dakin
August 08 2009, 02:17PM
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I'm tired of the white man forcing alcohol down my throat. I mean seriously, Bud light lime?!!?!?!? How could I resist? I am only a man. And white but that's besides the point. Kill whitey.

Oh and by the way.... This is no place for a debate about race, colour, origin, sexul orientation, religion or anything non hockey related. Complete Bullsh*t.

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#25 douggy
August 08 2009, 02:22PM
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HAHA. well said. hockey related only.

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#26 Librarian Mike
August 08 2009, 02:45PM
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The fact is this: If Theo Fleury at 41 and with all his mileage is good enough to crack the Oiler's lineup, then our team is not good enough.

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#27 Tyler
August 08 2009, 03:24PM
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Hope it works out for him. I always liked him.

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#28 Chris
August 08 2009, 03:27PM
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@ Harlie:

Sandra is also aborigional; At least she claims to be on a previous thread. In this light, her comment may be considered prideful as opposed to racist.

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#29 Zamboni Driver
August 08 2009, 04:01PM
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I think my favourite part of the pig headed debate was:

On one hand: "sence"

and

On the other: "them selfs"

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#30 Archaeologuy
August 08 2009, 04:28PM
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Chris wrote:

Sandra is also aborigional; At least she claims to be on a previous thread. In this light, her comment may be considered prideful as opposed to racist.

While this may have a hint of truth to it, the fact is there are a lot of racists who list "Pride" as the reason they say or do the things they do.

It would at least raise an eyebrow if i said something like "Of course Gretzky was the best hockey player in the world, he's White." Any time someone lists ethnicity as a reason for any characteristic it should be tossed out on principle. That's why people are all over this.

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#31 Death Metal Nightmare
August 08 2009, 04:46PM
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like i said in Brownlee's thread and what he said - go for it. you live once. screw what fat critics think. go play and have fun. if you make it, awesome. if you dont, thats fine too.

with his tenacity and competitive nature, if he stays healthy, he could definitely help a team. hell, the Oilers have probably 3 players on their current roster that are worse than him right now and theyre not even close to age 41.

Pokey Reddick, youre a moron. sorry dude. historical context leaves people in situations that arent always adaptable economically - EVEN AFTER 200+ years. use your "half metis" card all you want (by the way, i know half black dudes who cant stand full black people. cultural identity problem?) but its irresponsible historical analysis, economics and a total idiot thing to say. taking the other side of the Moron Coin doesnt make your position right even though you might win some "thumbs up" posts from other capitalist apologists who cry when a recession hits the western world and its tough to make a 40k truck payment or pay your mortgage on a 150+k house. weep. flow my tears. what a joke of a life.

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#32 Travis Dakin
August 08 2009, 04:49PM
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@ Archaeologuy: Once in a while you speak and I agree. haha This is one of those times. Well played my friend.

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#33 Gunner
August 08 2009, 04:49PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

This is no place for a debate about race, colour, origin, sexul orientation, religion or anything non hockey related. Complete Bullsh*t.

x 100000000000!

Talk hockey/oilers or GTFO!

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#34 Shaun Waskahat
August 08 2009, 04:58PM
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Harlie wrote:

@ Pokey Reddick: well said.

you are the same person, nice try.

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#35 Archaeologuy
August 08 2009, 04:59PM
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@ Travis Dakin: What?! There are times when I speak where you DONT agree with me?

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#36 Harlie
August 08 2009, 05:03PM
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@ Shaun Waskahat:

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#37 Harlie
August 08 2009, 05:03PM
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Get back to the welfare line

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#38 Travis Dakin
August 08 2009, 05:12PM
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@ Harlie: Shut up.

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#39 The Zombie Klima
August 08 2009, 05:32PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

“Of course Gretzky was the best hockey player in the world, he’s White.”

*raises eyebrow*

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#40 charlie
August 08 2009, 05:48PM
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Ha this is so dumb.

NOFX said it best:

I wasn't brought here, I was born Circumcised, categorized, allegiance sworn.

Does this mean I have to take such sh&t For being fair-skinned? No. I ain't part of no conspiracy, I'm just your average joe.

Don't call me white, don't calllllllll me white.

On a hockey note, Theo's a bum. Thank you and goodnight.

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#41 Kingsblade
August 08 2009, 07:14PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

It would at least raise an eyebrow if i said something like “Of course Gretzky was the best hockey player in the world, he’s White.” Any time someone lists ethnicity as a reason for any characteristic it should be tossed out on principle. That’s why people are all over this.

Wait...does this mean the launch of my new "White Achievement Club" at the University is a bad idea?

As for Fleury, I hope the Flames sign him, Burtuzzi, and Sundin to play on a line together.

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#42 DonovanMD
August 08 2009, 07:33PM
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LMAO, the crazies come out of the wood work.

Lazyness because of government handouts isn't a uniquely Canadian or North American thing. Aboriginals in Australia suffer the same substance abuse problems, unemployment and other issues. A very vocal minority considering Natives make up less than 3% of Canadians, and Abroiginals make up less than 2% of Australians. Yet they suck up 45% of social welfare and benefits.

Damn whiteman.

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#43 DonovanMD
August 08 2009, 07:34PM
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However, as most have said good luck Theo, it would be nice to see him come back and score 30-40 points in a decent role for some team. My favorite Flame until Jarome.

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#44 Harlie
August 08 2009, 07:43PM
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Harlie wrote:

@ Shaun Waskahat:

Harlie wrote:

Get back to the welfare line

wasn"t me. Honest. I've been around here for awhile and I deserve some cred when i say that wasn't me. I also contributed to the Stollery/Gregor to the NHL Draft event. Give it up with the flyby's Shaun. I may have to sick my older brother RB on ya. :0

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#45 Harlie
August 08 2009, 07:52PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

@ Harlie: Shut up.

I know you meant that for my imposter. And if you didn't, I will pee on your leg while I shake your hand at the next ON pissup!

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#46 James Gunner
August 08 2009, 07:54PM
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pilks wrote:

Shaun Waskahat wrote: I sence there is a lot of prejudice against the native people. It is the white man that has introduced them to most of thier problems, mostly alcohol. Why can’t you people leave us alone. We will make it in anything we do. The Native people have the drive to succeed, and fight the demons of the white man. Shaun Waskahat Big Stone. AHHHh Another blame the white man for your problems. I have native friends some that have gone far and made a life for them selfs, but that is not the norm. Mostly it is self distruction, lazyness and blaming what happened to you 100 years ago. The native people would have been better off with out the outrages treaties and learned to live life like the rest of us, work hard and good things will happen. Not fill this form out and bam life is handed to you. What you put into life is what you get out of it. I hope for hockeys sake Theo the side show fleury does not make it past tieing up his laces.

Very offensive post man. Way to stereo-type an entire race.

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#47 Travis Dakin
August 08 2009, 07:56PM
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Harlie wrote:

I know you meant that for my imposter. And if you didn’t, I will pee on your leg while I shake your hand at the next ON pissup!

I believe it wasn't you. There has been a few cases of imposters around here before. Sorry bro. Can you force me to drink alcohol at the next ON party? That would be much appreciated.

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#48 Clarkenstein
August 08 2009, 08:22PM
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Maybe Theo could play this winter in Ponoka... after the games he could check into the "Hotel Delusional".

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#49 Harlie
August 08 2009, 08:28PM
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@ Travis Dakin:

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

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#50 Harlie
August 08 2009, 09:05PM
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@ Travis Dakin:

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

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