Fleury plays after second appeal

Updated: January 23, 2005, 1:55 AM ET
Associated Press

HORSE LAKE, Alberta -- Theo Fleury's return to competitive hockey was a productive one.

The former NHL star had a goal and two assists in the Horse Lake Thunder's 6-5 win over the Spirit River Rangers in a North Peace Hockey League game Saturday night. The contest was Fleury's first with the Thunder since being cleared to play for the team after a second appeal to Hockey Alberta on Friday.

"It felt great," Fleury said. "It was a long time coming. It's just nice to get out there and compete. It was fun."

Earlier this month, Hockey Alberta denied the Thunder's first appeal on Fleury's behalf. It said at the time NHL players who were under contract during the 2003-04 season and who are currently locked out were ineligible to play in the senior league.

Fleury was still under contract with the Chicago Blackhawks last season, but did not play a game because he was suspended by the NHL for violating the league's substance abuse rules. Fleury, 36, last appeared in the NHL with the Blackhawks 17 months ago.

Fleury and the Thunder had argued he should be allowed to play because he didn't play in the NHL last season.

The Thunder announced it had signed Fleury earlier this month, but just hours before he was to play his first game, Hockey Alberta announced he was ineligible.

Fleury had 1,088 points (455 goals, 633 assists) in 1,084 career NHL games.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press