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Theo Fleury may have been the Biggest Underdog in the NHL

It’s Underdog Week here at SBNation, and Calgary Flames’ Theo Fleury comes to mind.



Calgary is home to Flames legend Theoren Fleury. A fan favourite as the biggest underdog in the national hockey league, the smallest player drafted into the big show in 1987 at 5’6” (with skates on). Fleury played a decade with the Calgary Flames where he recorded some of his highest point seasons. He also scored the game winning goal in game 1 of the Flames Stanley Cup Championship in 1989. 

Theo stood out, playing every game with a chip on his shoulder. He was used to being on the receiving end of abuse. Overcoming racial verbal abuse, and sexual abuse trauma are just some of the obstacles that Theo has overcome and continues to overcome. 

His stats stand out:

’89 Stanley Cup champion with the Calgary Flames. He was called up by the Flames just after New Years, scoring 14 goals, 20 assists, for a rookie season of 34 points in 36 games. During the playoffs that year he accumulated 5 goals, 6 assists, for a total of 11 points in 22 playoff games and a Stanley Cup to show for it.

Fleury was number 1 in the league for Hat Tricks in two seasons, 1990-91 and 1998-99, 14 of his 16 3-goal games were with the Calgary Flames. With 1088 points in 1084 games played, his name remained on Top 10 lists for goals, assists, and points over his playing career.

He won an Olympic Gold Medal with Team Canada in 2002, his second appearance on behalf of Canada at the Olympic Games. The fact that he even made Team Canada shows you just how talented he was, only the highest caliber athletes get chosen to compete with the other countries.

Playing internationally for Team Canada in the World Juniors, as well as participating in 7 All-Star Games are just a few more accolades to add to Fleury’s résumé. He reached many milestones for someone his height, but don’t confuse that with this stature. 

You can’t be from Alberta, and not know who Theo Fleury is. He was a character off the ice just as much as he was on the ice. Chatting with the homeless was just one of the things that showed you how much of an empath Theo really was. 

Is Theo Fleury a Hall of Fame Contender

HHOF panel delegates follow a criteria when picking nominees. Role model must be on the checklist. In 2009, Theo released his first book ‘Playing with Fire’ that had great reception with fans. The second most sales in Canada with ~30,000 books sold. Fleury playing the preseason for the Flames in 2009 was good promo. We all knew he wouldn’t be playing in the 2009-10 regular season, but we still went to see Theo play and join in on the “Theo, Theo” chant. The best was when he scored the shootout goal for the Flames win, glad I got to witness that one live in the Saddledome.

Growing up on cable television and watching Theo Fleury messing up opponents was a past time; after going for bike rides; for most of us from cowtown. He brought an electric energy to the team and made it a ton of fun for fans to watch him deke out the best players and goaltenders. I swear he even went under a players’ legs one time .. 

In his autobiography he spilled the beans on his many misbehaviours, and chronicled the abuse that he had sustained. The thing with Theo is, he never really gave a shit what others thought of him, he still doesn’t. Is that what’s stopping him from being nominated to be inducted into the hockey hall of fame ..

Maybe. Maybe not. We can at least agree on him being the biggest underdog in the NHL .. I can’t think of a smaller player who pulled as much weight as Theo did. 

by Renu Sahota