Suspended indefinitely by the NHL, Blackhawks winger Theo Fleury, who last week revealed that he had violated the terms of the league's Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. Chicago signed Fleury, 34, to a two-year, $8.6 million contract in August, though Fleury had previously received treatment under the program—which maintains strict confidentiality as to the reasons for a player's participation—in the summer of 2000 and in 2001 when, as a Ranger, he missed 20 games.
SI has learned that upon signing Fleury, the Blackhawks hired a caretaker for him. Jim Jenkins—a plumber and recovering alcoholic whom Fleury befriended while spending summers in Santa Fe—signed a one-year, $200,000 contract. His responsibilities include making sure Fleury attends AA meetings, reports for the random urine tests mandated by the NHL's aftercare program and stays clean. "This experiment isn't off to the best start," says Chicago G.M. Mike Smith, "but in the long run the people who run Fleury's [aftercare] program will tell us whether having a sober companion helps. J.J. knows what he's doing and has Fleury's best interest at heart."
Jenkins, who has relocated to Chicago, will continue to serve as Fleury's companion. While no other NHL team is known to have hired a "minder," such caretakers are common in the entertainment industry. Fleury, a seven-time All-Star who has scored 30 or more goals eight times and was pivotal in Canada's gold medal championship at the Salt Lake City Olympics, had chosen the Blackhawks over other suitors partly because of the team's sympathetic stance toward addictive players. Bob Probert, 37, who has battled alcoholism and was suspended from the league for a drug offense, is the team's top enforcer. "We still believe in Theo Fleury," said Smith. "We believe Theo will be back."