Sunday, August 09, 2009

Life after hockey is not always a bed of roses

Following in the footsteps of Claude Lemieux, TSN reports that Theoren Fleury is attempting a comeback and wants to play in the NHL again.

After playing senior hockey last season, Fleury decided in February he was fit enough to give the NHL another try, so he hired a personal trainer and has been working diligently since. He has been telling people that he didn't leave the National Hockey League the way he wanted, which is fueling his desire to return.

The 41-year-old has been sober for almost four years and has been skating daily in Calgary in the hope that an NHL team is willing to invite him to training camp. Fleury was always a fan favourite because the little guy played his heart out.

However, the real reason for the attempted comeback is money. Fleury earned $24 million over his career but supposedly is now broke. He has recently been in court to reduce his monthly child support payments from $5,000 to about $1,000. In court he reported that his annual income in 2005 fell to just over $10,000. So even earning the NHL minimum salary of $450,000 who likely help a lot.

Fleury is just one of many athletes who burn through their money before reaching the age of 50. Fleury will be entitled to a full pension as an NHLer who played more than 400 regular-season games at about age 50 — but between then and now, he might play some hockey to make ends meet. Very sad indeed.