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Theo Fleury Shares Inspirational Message In Sauk Rapids

Former NHL standout Theo Fleury spoke to hundreds assembled at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School on Saturday afternoon about addiction, recovery and hockey. Proceeds from tickets sold and a silent auction benefitted the Minnesota Youth Foundation.

In August, local hockey dad and educator Brent Pakkala sent a Tweet to Fleury regarding a couple of local girls whose families could not afford to play hockey. A retweet from the former Olympian Fleury got the girls the money they needed and then some.

Pakkala asked if Fleury would be interested in coming to town and talking about his past as a victim of abuse and how he coped with childhood trauma to become a hockey superstar, and the affable Fleury agreed.

He arrived in town on Friday and took in St. Cloud State’s 2-2 tie with Colorado College at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.


Saturday morning Fleury helped coach the two young hockey players that he had helped to play this season. He also gave an inspirational speech before the game.


His story, titled “Don’t Quit Before the Miracle,” began as a small boy in Canada when he could not afford proper equipment to play hockey. Fleury said he used “Sears catalogs taped to my legs for shin guards.” His parents struggled with addiction and as a 15 year old he moved away from home to play hockey full time.

It was during this time that he was a victim of abuse, hundreds of times at the hands of a scout who had brought him to Winnipeg, far from home.

From there, Fleury struggled with addiction and had a lot of difficulty sleeping at night. His addiction continued throughout his career and even after, affecting all aspects of his life.

On his darkest day, Fleury was on the brink of suicide until he found help within himself, and from other people in his life.

His story of recovery was remarkable and kept the audience riveted throughout its 75 minute duration.

After he spoke he took questions from the crowd, many of them youth hockey players proudly displaying their team colors with puffy ball-topped toques.

One youth asked Fleury who the hardest goaltender was for him to score on. Fleury smiled and said “None of them, they were all easy.”

On legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur: “I don’t know how no one has figured out that he has slow feet. I always shot down there and scored all the time.”


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