Fleury vows he won't 'return to this league'

BASINGSTOKE, England -- Former NHL star and Olympic gold medalist Theo Fleury again made the headlines in British hockey on Saturday.

After being in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons a few weeks ago following his alleged verbal abuse toward fans in the Belfast Giants' clash at the Coventry Blaze and his recent tantrum in a packed Odyssey Arena, Fleury found himself being thrown out of the game early again.

After receiving a straightforward two-minute penalty for elbowing from referee Mike Hicks, Fleury argued the call and refused to take his place in the penalty box before being assessed an additional 10-minute misconduct.

When the Basingstoke Bison scored an empty-net goal later that game, Fleury got the puck from the net and intentionally fired it toward the referee, missing his head by only inches. A second misconduct penalty and automatic expulsion from the rest of the game followed before he lost it completely and threatened the officials, for which he received an additional match penalty.

Fleury, who repeatedly reminds officials that he is the only star in the league and should be protected by them, turned out to be one of the hardest players to control.

Although Fleury's hockey skills are shown on the scoring charts with 22 goals and 55 assists in just 35 games, he has also accumulated 217 penalty minutes, of which at least half are for misconduct.

After a great NHL career with a troublesome finish in his late 30s, it seemed likely that Fleury would never play professional hockey again.

When personal friend Jim Yarowski got involved with the Giants, Fleury was handed another lifeline and player-coach Ed Courteney welcomed the former Chicago Blackhawk into his lineup after Elite League officials pulled all strings available to get his work permit sorted.

Fleury has since criticized the league and its on-ice officials and has stated he will "not return to this league ever again."