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Thursday, October 3
Sutter: I'm just concerned for Theo

ESPN.com news services

Theo Fleury is with a new team, but the same off-ice distractions continue.

Theo Fleury

The winger missed Wednesday's practice without notifying the Blackhawks, who then met with Fleury on Thursday to clear up matters.

According to The Sports Network of Canada's Web site, Chicago coach Brian Sutter excused Fleury from Thursday's practice and the winger is expected to rejoin the team Friday.

"We had a meeting," Blackhawks general manager Mike Smith told TSN. "It was a good meeting. ... He has some personal things to deal with. There's not really anything else to say."

During the 2000-01 season with the New York Rangers, Fleury checked himself into the NHL/NHLPA substance abuse program and missed the last 20 games. After completing the program, players are subjected to mandatory testing for the remainder of their careers. Fleury still participates in the mandatory after-care program prescribed by the program's doctors.

"We said from the get-go, in this [after-care NHL's substance-abuse] program, neither Theo nor the club is able to talk about his personal situation," Smith told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday. "That comes from the people who run the program. They're the only ones who can answer with any substance.''

According to the report in the Sun-Times, the team was not aware Fleury would miss Wednesday's practice as the marketing department had sweaters and pucks on hand for Fleury to sign.

Blackhawks coach Brian Sutter didn't have an explanation for Fleury's absence, and told the Sun-Times that he guessed his wasn't there for "personal reasons." Sutter later told a local radio station he was worried for the winger.

"I'm just concerned about Theo, that's all,'' Sutter told WSCR-AM radio on Wednesday night. "We knew when we got into this that there would be days that weren't easy sailing, and he knows it, too.''

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