May 18, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wingPatrick Kane
warms up across the center ice logo before game one of the Western Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
1. Theo Fleury
$8.5 million for 1,000 career NHL points, a Stanley Cup champion and an Olympic Gold Medal winner doesn’t seem so bad for the un-capped 2002-03 NHL season. Especially for a young team coming off a playoff appearance, a crafty veteran presence and a headline-making free agent signing would be great to create some buzz.
That is, unless that player is Theo Fleury … which it was.
Two nights before the 2002-03 season began, Fleury violated the NHL’s substance abuse policy for the 14th(!) time. He would have to miss the first two months of the season and would wind up playing 54 games overall, recording 33 points. Not terrible, but not worth the money and the hype.
Fleury spent much of his time in Chicago partying with shady people. A bar fight in Columbus while on the road to play the Blue Jackets, would signify the end of his days with the ’Hawks and the NHL as well.
The ’Hawks’ front office should have been far more concerned about what they were getting with the $8.5 million dollars of the notoriously cheap Bill Wirtz. Ever hear of research? Not even a lot of it, but just a bit of research into Fleury’s behavior, and some common sense, could have told the ’Hawks’ brass that this was an awful use of $8.5 million.
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Again the ’Hawks were desperate, and at this time they had to overpay to attract free agents to play in Chicago. It was a different time, that’s for sure, but it’s moves like this that made the ’Hawks not just a joke, but an all-but-forgotten sports franchise.
Today, Fleury has put his personal demons to rest just as the ’Hawks have put their hilariously awful free agents signings into the “few and far between” category.
Let’s just be thankful that we are far removed from all of these moves. We’ll take cap-crunching salary moves that follow Stanley Cups over these box-office flops of free agent signings any day.