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Tuesday, October 8
Updated: October 9, 12:52 PM ET
 
Fleury in rehab for second time in 20 months

Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Theo Fleury, the Chicago Blackhawks' main offseason acquisition, was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Tuesday for violating his substance abuse aftercare program.

Tue, October 8
With Theo Fleury being suspended and going back into rehab, we can now look back on the offseason and say he wasn't ready to make this commitment, he wasn't ready to go into the hockey world and still deal with his personal problems and his substance abuse issues.
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The announcement came just two days before the Blackhawks begin the regular season.

Fleury, 34, has struggled with substance-abuse and anger-management problems in recent seasons. He signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract with the Blackhawks on Aug. 15, following three turbulent years with the New York Rangers.

He said he missed two practices last week because his father had surgery to remove a tumor.

Drs. Dave Lewis and Brian Shaw of the National Hockey League/National Hockey League Players' Association Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program are administering Fleury's care.

"Theoren will continue to be assessed, an appropriate treatment program will be put into effect, and his progress will be monitored regularly,'' Shaw said. "Our primary objective is for Theo to restore appropriate balance to his life and thereafter to be able to resume his career.''

Blackhawks general manager Mike Smith said Fleury is expected to remain in Chicago during his suspension, adding that the right wing will not be fined.

"It's a suspension without pay. That's a very significant cost,'' he said.

Fleury reported his own aftercare program violation, that occurred in the past week or so, Smith said.

Under the terms of the program, Fleury will not be eligible for reinstatement until cleared by the supervising doctors.

"This course of action is best suited to Theoren's situation,'' Lewis said. "He needs time away from the game in order to work on his issues.''

Smith, who said he hadn't spoken yet to Fleury, called the suspension a disappointment.

"We're on the eve of starting the season,'' he said. "We have to make some adjustments ... We still believe in Theo Fleury.

"We believe he'll be back. We haven't changed our opinion of that.''

Fleury voluntarily entered the substance abuse and behavioral health program on Feb. 28, 2001, while with the Rangers. He was cleared to resume playing on Sept. 4, 2001.

The 5-foot-6 Fleury was one of the top players in the NHL the first 10½ years of his career in Calgary. He scored 40 or more goals three times and had a career-high 104 points in 1990-91.

After a brief stint with the Colorado Avalanche, Fleury signed a three-year, $24 million contract with New York in 1999 and struggled immediately. He had only 15 goals and 49 assists his first season with the Rangers.

Fleury appeared to be turning things around the following season, leading New York with 30 goals and 44 assists. But with 20 games left, he surprised everyone by checking himself into rehab.

The Rangers traded Fleury's rights to the San Jose Sharks just days before he became an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Chicago will start the season with 22 players, one short of the maximum.

"In the short-term here, we'll make some decisions based on what's happened here at training camp,'' Smith said. "But I don't think at this time we're going to go out and talk about trading for a significant (player). We may change our mind in a week or something, but not today or tomorrow.''




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