In the last 10 or more years, no rookie came to the Golden Eagles with more advance publicity than 5-foot-6, 155-pound center Theoren Fleury. At the Calgary Flames' 1987 training camp, he was the most exciting player in the organization, and everybody said so, even after he was returned to his Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, junior team to finish out his last year there.
When the Eagles had scoring problems early in the year, they pointed to Fleury coming out of juniors at the end of the season as the light at the end of the tunnel.When he finally came to the Eagles, he didn't disappoint. In his first game, March 25, he scored five points - two goals, three assists. He totaled 23 points in the 10 games he was allowed to play - if he played more, the Flames reasoned, they'd have to protect him an extra year in the waiver draft, so they allowed him 10 tries only.
Fleury spent the summer working at a Moose Jaw golf course and planning his first pro season - as a Calgary Flame. Instead, he began the 1988-89 year with the Golden Eagles again.
"I was really disappointed I didn't make the hockey club in Calgary," Fleury said recently. That was only natural. He knew how much he'd been talked about by the front office and other players.
"And even though I did get over that, I've been in a slump," Fleury said.
That was last Tuesday, after he scored the winning goal in a 3-2 game over Milwaukee in the Salt Palace. Fleury had suddenly broken out of his slump.
It wasn't so much that he scored two points, it was the way he looked on the ice, especially in the third period. Hard to catch. Hitting everything in sight. Milwaukee finally speared him in the stomach to try and slow him down. It didn't work.
Coach Paul Baxter said it looked like the old Fleury was back.
And, if the last four games are any indication, he is back for sure.
Monday, Fleury was named International Hockey League Player of the Week for those four games of last week - three of them Eagle wins. He scored seven goals and four assists for 11 points - nearly three points a game. He had two game-winning goals, two power-play goals, a power-play assist and was +7 for the week, meaning he played defense, too.
Fleury had goals in all four games and scored four goals in his last game, an 8-3 Salt Palace win over Denver Saturday. He had five goals, three assists in two weekend games.
With a 10-game scoring streak, he has taken over the Eagle point leadership with 25 to Peter Lappin's 22, and he moved into eighth place in the league, while Lappin occupies 15th.
Fleury tops the Eagles in goals (15), game-winning goals (four) and shots taken (87), is tied for the team lead in power-play goals (four) and unassisted goals (two) and has two of the seven short-handed goals.