If there was any doubt that Theo Fleury was ready to make an NHL comeback, it should be erased after last night’s pre-season game, when he took to the NHL ice for the first time in 7 years. Not only did he show that he’s still got it, but he also won the game for his old team
with the same level of skill that he showed when he was in his 20’s.
Fleury played a solid game and capped off a storybook comeback by scoring the game-winning goal in the shootout, giving the Flames a 5-4 win on home ice. He scored the only goal of the shootout while showing that he still has soft hands by sliding the puck into the Islanders net in front of a roaring Saddledome crowd. I’m not sure if the crowd was louder when he was announced as a shooter, or after he scored. Either way it was clear that the fans in Calgary love Theo Fleury and they are happy to see him in his old #14 jersey. Fleury showed his appreciation by saluting the crowd after the final whistle had blown.
Last night’s game was ripe with pre-season energy and both teams had plenty of energy in the lineup. Youngsters on the Flames and Islanders teams were playing hard, trying to secure their spot on the NHL teams’ rosters for the start of the 2009-2010 season. It was a physical game and there were so many fights that I actually lost count!
The Flames iced most of their top players, giving them a chance to play together for the first time. Olli Jokinen had a good night, scoring 2 goals, as did recent acquisition, Nigel Dawes, who opened the scoring for the Flames in the first period.
Jay Bouwmeester showed why he’s worth $6+million dollars by moving the puck up the ice in a way that reminds me of Dion Phaneuf without the doubt that he’ll cough up the puck and cause an odd-man rush back on his own net.
Overall, this pre-season game was worth every penny that I paid to go see it. We got to see the top Flames players and the end result created a warm fuzzy feeling in the bellies of long-time Flames fans who wanted to see Theo Fleury prove that he belongs back in a Flames uniform.
This is surely just the first of many games for Fleury this season, and I’ll bet that we see him in a Flames jersey more often than we see him in a Heat jersey. Theo may not be able to regain the Flames scoring title from Jarome Iginla, but he’ll surely contribute when necessary. I just want to see him “shoot-the-duck” after scoring a goal in San Jose one more time and I can die a happy man!!