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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Fleury of news from Ireland

Theo Fleury has signed with the Belfast, Northern Ireland Giants. It’s the type of news that is big, in a splashy sort of way. Sports writers eat it up. Okay, not Irish sports writers, where hockey is about as well known as Nascar, but it’s splashy nonetheless.

‘‘I am really looking forward to coaching Theo,’’ Giants coach Ed Courtenay said.

Words to die by. I remember when the Chicago Blackhawks signed Fleury. I don’t think he ever played a game here (wrong, according to the NHL player database. It seems I just remember what the newspapers said about Fleury). Most of his headlines were due to run-ins with his substance abuse problems. What is the 37-year-old to do when he wins his first Man of the Month award—a case of beer?

What will happen to the Giants clubhouse as it battles Fleury’s demons? It’s a peculiar sport, hockey. Sure there are super stars, but does anyone remember the fate of the 2004-5 Motor City Mechanics? Hockey is a sport of teams, not individuals. No matter how talented, the addition of Red Wings stars Chris Chelios (hock and spit!) and Derian Hatcher couldn’t lift the Mechanics last year. What happens in the clubhouse is nearly as important as what happens on the ice.

Good luck Giants, and you too Mr. Fleury.

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