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Tuesday, February 26
Updated: February 27, 10:36 PM ET
 
Fleury demands respect from officials

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers forward Theo Fleury threatened to retire Tuesday night if he doesn't get the respect he feels he deserves from NHL officials.

Fleury, who has 181 penalty minutes this season, picked up 12 in the final 5 minutes of the Rangers' 4-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

With 4:18 left, Fleury was called for tripping. He responded by slapping the puck against the boards and arguing, earning a 10-minute misconduct.

After the game, Fleury insisted he's the victim of a "personal" attack by biased officials.

"I'm just really frustrated," he said. "If I'm not allowed to play the way I know how to play then maybe it's time to retire, hang up the blades."

Fleury's act is wearing thin for Rangers coach Ron Low, particularly since the penalty kept Fleury off the Rangers' power play with 1:19 remaining.

"If he's not kicked out, it makes a big difference," Low said. "We might have tied it. He can't keep doing this."

Low said he plans to talk with Fleury on Wednesday, but if things don't change, "I guess I'll have to sit him."

Low will tell Fleury the Rangers need him "on the ice, not throwing temper tantrums every time a penalty is called against him."

Fleury said he's lost faith that league disciplinarian Colin Campbell and commissioner Gary Bettman will try to see his side of things.

"This is a personal thing with me and the referees and I'm getting a little tired of it," Fleury said. "I don't care what Colin Campbell and Gary Bettman say -- that it isn't personal. I believe that it is."

Fleury was angry after watching other players appear to get away with similar infractions.

"I try to reason in my head why certain guys are allowed to play the way they play, and I'm not going to change the way I play," he said. "If I did, I might as well sit and watch it on television. ... I'm tired of these borderline calls. Like I said, maybe it's time to hang it up."

Fleury claimed New Jersey's Bobby Holik and goalie Martin Brodeur were guilty of penalties that went unpunished.

"The way they let a guy like Bobby Holik play out there, I just don't understand it," Fleury said, adding an official simply gave Holik a "love tap" after going after New York's Andreas Johansson.

He also said Brodeur "threw his gloves off after a goal was scored and he got no penalty."

Brodeur, in turn, accused Fleury of playing dirty -- and not getting penalized. Brodeur and Fleury were Team Canada teammates who won Olympic gold on Sunday.

"It's easy to hate the guy, he's a competitive guy," Brodeur said. "We had a big emotional win with each other. It was only two days ago."

Brodeur claimed Fleury "was kicking my glove with his skate" just before Fleury scored in the second period to put New York up 3-2.

"I had my glove on the puck," Brodeur said. "It's a little tough when the referees don't give you a chance to stop it."

Many times this season, Fleury has been taunted by fans, opposing players and even mascots. When he responded with words or actions, he's been punished by the league.

He's insisted his persecutors took advantage of the fact Fleury spent time battling a substance abuse problem late last season, missing 20 games.

Fleury said he chose to get sober in part so he could participate in the Olympics for Canada. Fleury kept his emotions under control during the tournament and vowed at Tuesday morning's skate to continue playing with a cool head.




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