'I made a bad decision'
Fleury apologizes to teammates for weekend incidentPosted: Wednesday January 22, 2003 7:21 PM
Updated: Wednesday January 22, 2003 7:37 PM
CHICAGO (AP) -- Theo Fleury said Wednesday he'd made a "bad choice" and was ready to accept the consequences after Ohio police said he was intoxicated following an altercation at a strip club.
"I made a bad decision," said Fleury, who was suspended for the first 25 games of the season after violating the NHL's substance abuse aftercare program.
"Whatever the consequences are, I'm fully aware. I'll deal with the consequences when they happen."
Blackhawks coach Brian Sutter said the matter was being handled internally.
"Something happened that we regret and it's being handled internally," Sutter said. "Do we like it? No, but it's being handled internally."
Fleury met with Blackhawks general manager Steve Smith on Tuesday. NHL spokesman Frank Brown would not comment on whether the league has been notified of the incident. Fleury is under the supervision of two doctors as part of the NHL's aftercare program.
Sgt. Brent Mull, spokesman for the Columbus, Ohio police department, said officers received a call from an attendant at a gas station across the street from the Pure Platinum strip club about 4:45 a.m. EST Sunday. A group of men had used a pay phone at the station to call a cab, and Mull said the attendant was concerned because one of the men looked as if he'd been assaulted.
The cab was gone by the time the police showed up, but another officer, Jason Gunther, saw the cab and stopped it.
"Sure enough, those were the people the attendant had called about," Mull said.
According to Gunther's report, Fleury was "intoxicated" and said he'd been "hit several times by about nine bouncers" at the strip club. He refused medical attention for a cut above his left eye, and refused to give his address or phone number, though he did tell Gunther he played for the Blackhawks.
The other people with Fleury -- Mull said there were two or three -- refused to be identified.
"They said they didn't want any part of it because they were famous and they didn't want any publicity," Mull said.
No charges were filed. Mull said no sobriety tests were done because Fleury wasn't driving.
"I had the opportunity to speak to my teammates today. As far as I'm concerned that's who I'm responsible to," Fleury said. "It's unfortunate the things that happened, but today's a new day and I'm just going to continue to go forward from here."
Fleury is a seven-time All-Star who's scored 40 or more goals three times. But he has struggled with substance-abuse and anger-management problems in recent seasons.
He voluntarily entered the substance abuse and behavioral health program on Feb. 28, 2001, while with the New York Rangers, and was cleared to resume playing on Sept. 4, 2001.
He signed a two-year, $8.5-million contract with the Blackhawks on Aug. 15 as a free agent, but was suspended two days before the regular season started after reporting his own aftercare violation. The right wing sat out two months before returning Dec. 6.
"I am an alcoholic," Fleury said then. "Let's just say my disease is in remission."