He was a physical lightweight in a heavyweight league. Against all odds, Theo Fleury established himself as a major star in the National Hockey League. In his rookie year, he helped the Calgary Flames win the Stanley Cup, in 1989, and went on to rack up Hall of Fame stats. He was a key member of Canada’s gold-medal men’s hockey team at the 2002 Olympics. But, through it all, Theo Fleury was as troubled as he was talented and tough.
In The Fall and Rise of Theo Fleury, the fifth estate tells Fleury’s remarkable story, the staggering fall from grace that cost him millions of dollars, his family and almost, his life. Fleury talks with Bob McKeown about how he struggled back from the brink of despair to become, today, clean and sober and ready to help others.
With a “tell-all” book hitting the shelves this week (Playing with Fire, HarperCollins Canada), Fleury goes on the record with the fifth estate and candidly discusses the dark issues that haunted him during the glory years, including the sexual abuse he experienced as a teenager at the hand of the now notorious junior hockey coach, Graham James. Behind the public bravado was a man struggling to shake off his demons. He found his release in increasingly erratic behaviour on and off the ice, fuelled by addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex.
Fleury’s candid and unsentimental recounting of those years of torment and, finally, his vanquishing of those demons, will be an inspiration to many, a cautionary tale for others. As Fleury himself points out, he made it through the darkness, so can others.
The fifth estate’s Bob McKeown talks to those who know Fleury best—both personally and professionally. We’ll meet Sheldon Kennedy — Fleury’s childhood friend, Calgary Flames teammate, and a victim of the same junior hockey coach. And the fifth estate talks with Fleury’s wife, Jennifer, who married Theo in September 2006, following a year of sobriety, and with whom he credits turning his life around.