There will surely be a faction of the fan base that is carrying the torch for Kent Nilsson, but when it comes to #14 in Flames history there’s really only one player who you think of and that is Theo Fleury.
Fleury spent the first 11 years of his NHL career as a member of the Calgary Flames and left his mark on the franchise and league during that time. He came into the fold at the right time, as a rookie in 1988-89 and made an immediate impact with the Flames. He played in 36 regular season games, scoring 14 goals and collecting 20 assists during the regular season, with his first two goals coming against the Oilers. He would play in 22 games during the Flames march to the Stanley Cup, adding 11 points to add to his solid rookie campaign.
Fleury’s style of play was perfect for those late 80’s and early 90’s teams that were tough and physical, yet had a powerful scoring touch. In eight of Fleury’s 11 seasons with Calgary he would only have less than 100 PIM once, with 1997-98’s 197 PIM being a career high for the winger. His aggressive and agitating style of play would be the calling card for one of the smaller players to play during his time. At 5’6 Theo Fleury was small for his generation, but nothing about his play was small at all.
In 11 seasons with the Flames he would play in 791 games, score 364 goals, add 446 assists, and rack up 1339 PIM. His time in Calgary would be his best years in the NHL playoffs as well, with seven of his eight post season trips coming in a Flames sweater. He would pile up 62 points in 59 career playoff games and win his only Stanley Cup while in Calgary. He would also make five of his seven ASG appearances as a member of the Flames.
Fleury’s time would end in Calgary during the 1998-99 season. He would spend the final half of that year as a member of the Colorado Avalanche before making stops with the NY Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks before substance abuse issues off ice would lead to his suspension and the end of his NHL career. He would play over seas before finally getting Gary Bettman to lift his suspension and he would get a try out offer from the Flames during the 2009 preseason. He played in four games before being released by Calgary and that would be the end of his very successful, if not tumultuous NHL career. Theo Fleury would officially retire from the NHL in 2009.
The 11 years spent roaming the Saddledome made Theo Fleury one of the best players to ever don the Flaming C. He’s fifth overall in games played (791), second in goals (364), third in assists (446), second in points (830), fifth in PIM (1339), second in even strength goals (229), third in PPG (107), first in SHG (28), second in GWG (53), third in shots (2685) and second in hat tricks (13). He’s top five in every major offensive category in Flames history and most, if not all of his career numbers with the Flames aren’t within any kind of reach of any current Flames player. That’s how good Theo Fleury was. He would also wear the “C” as the Calgary Captain from 1995-97.
Off the ice, Theo Fleury struggled with alcohol/drug abuse and that led to many of his issues with play and the league in his final years in the NHL. It wouldn’t become public until much later in life that the abuse he was going through was directly related to sexual abuse he endured at the hands of Graham James while playing in the WHL. Fleury, to his credit, battled his addictions and owned up to them and since coming out about being sexually abused has helped others who’ve been in the same situation he was in. Post hockey Fleury has had many off ice ventures as a motivational speaker, reality TV host, author (Playing With Fire), country music star and he has set up multiple charities, fundraisers and hockey schools to benefit Calgary’s youth.
Other Players Having Worn #14 In Flames History
Al McDonough (1974), Chuck Arnason (1974), Tim Ecclestone (1975-78), Gene Carr (1979), Kent Nilsson (1980-85), Brian Bradley (1986-87)
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by Mark Parkinson