Former all-star Theoren Fleury cleared by league, union to return to ice

NEW YORK – Former NHL all-star Theoren Fleury’s comeback attempt was given a push in the right direction Thursday after he was reinstated for on-ice play by the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association.

Fleury had been under indefinite suspension for violating the NHL’s substance abuse policy, but the Oxbow, Sask., native says he’s achieved sobriety and is hoping to get an invite to an NHL training camp.

Fleury’s chances of making a return to the NHL are still questionable, however. He’s 41 years old and hasn’t played in the league since the end of the 2002-03 season.

The diminutive forward made up for his five-foot-six frame during a remarkable NHL career. He scored 455 goals and added 633 assists in over 1,000 career games with the Flames, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks between 1988 and 2003. He won a Stanley Cup in his rookie season with Calgary.

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He was also a member of the Canadian team that won an Olympic gold medal in 2002.

Fleury also battled alcoholism throughout his career.

“I knew something was wrong about 15 years ago. I just didn’t have the tools to be able to deal with life,” Fleury said after one of his recent practice sessions in Calgary. “I started picking up really good tools to get to a point four years ago where I knew I could stop and continue and maintain my recovery and sobriety.”

Fleury will continue to participate in the after-care phase of the league’s substance abuse program.