Belfast Telegraph

Ice Hockey: Belfast changed my life

Legend Fleury opens heart to Sunday Life

By Nigel Ringland

Former NHL bad boy Theo Fleury is a content man these days.

The hockey legend married Jennifer last summer and is now running his own business with brother Travis in Calgary.

The bad times seem to be behind him and he insists he owes that to the time he spent in Belfast.

"Obviously Jen and I are a match made in heaven and we always talk about our time in Belfast because that's basically were our relationship really blossomed," admits Fleury.

"Since leaving we've been very busy with the wedding and starting our new business and it's been so much fun. I think we'll be talking about Belfast for the rest of our lives," he explained to Sunday Life hours before boarding a flight which will bring him back to the Odyssey Arena on Tuesday night for Todd Kelman's testimonial.

Fleury's every move in his hockey career, on and off the ice, was public news in Canada as was his personal fight against alcoholism.

Away from the pressure cooker of home and the public scrutiny, Belfast helped him fight his demons.

"It was a tremendous help. It was basically me and Jen in Belfast and there wasn't the constant calls from the media trying to find out what I was doing.

"I got sober and remain sober until this day so it was a great opportunity to get away and recharge the batteries and when we came back to Calgary we were much better prepared for our hectic life."

On the ice nobody will forget the NHL superstar's debut with the Giants on October 15, 2005 against Edinburgh Capitals when he scored a hat-trick, added four assists, and then fought and beat Fredrik Oduya which led to him being named man of the match.

He helped the Giants to the league championship with a 92 points season but was frustrated with the level of officiating and the personal taunts of some Coventry Blaze fans.

"I loved playing for the Giants, I could have done without all the stuff that went on on away trips but from the moment I stepped onto the ice at the Odyssey it was fun and exciting and I hope I was able to help some for the guys who are still there and that they remember me well. I still check the Giants' website to see how the team is doing."

Now Theo is enjoying watching his kids play soccer and running Fleury's Concrete Coatings and looking forward to coming back to Belfast.

"It should be a great evening for a fantastic guy. Todd has done so much for the organisation and the community in Belfast and Jen and I can't wait to get back and see the fans and our friends."

Belfast Telegraph


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