If you’re not the biggest guy on the ice, a huge brawl perhaps isn’t for you. Especially during the earlier days of the NHL, when five-on-five fights happened way more often than today. Theo Fleury, a legendary winger for several teams in the NHL, was good at many things, but fighting wasn’t his biggest strength.
He’s one of the greatest – and the shortest – players ever to play in the NHL, and when fights broke out, it would be best for him to skate away. But it didn’t work like that. One time, his Calgary Flames’ ended up in a huge bench-clearing fight, and he got beaten up pretty well. Even though he came up against enforcer Ken Baumgartner, who’s almost twice as tall, he didn’t hide.
”He’s huge, and I was maybe 145 pounds. He reached behind his neck and plucked me off like I was a spider crawling up his sweater. Then he held me out in front of him at arm’s length, with my skates dangling in the air, and–wham!–a fist to my forehead. He split it open about eight inches, from above my right eyebrow to the corner of the left, and dropped me to the ice like a dirty Kleenex. Blood gushed out, steaming down my face. I was a little disoriented for a minute. ‘Where am I?’ I wondered as I looked around at the crowd.”
Theo Fleury was severely injured but wasn’t ready to give up. He looked for Baumgartner again but got stopped by nonother than Wayne Gretzky.
”I got up and put up my fists, ready to go at it again, but I felt this hand on the back of my jersey pulling me out of there. It was Gretz. ”C’mon, kid,” he said, ”let’s get you to the bench.” Gretz was always so good to me. I dunno why. We skated a little ways, him keeping me steady on my feet and me feeling conflicted. I wasn’t too sure of my obligation to the team– ‘Should I sucker Wayne? Should I pop him one?’ It took me a minute, but I realized that would be stupid.” Fleury said.
What a wholesome gesture by The Great One, and respect to Fleury for sticking up to his teammates. Two absolute legends of the game.