In book, Fleury details alleged abuse

Updated: October 9, 2009, 5:23 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Theo Fleury acknowledges he was allegedly sexually abused by junior coach Graham James, a convicted sex offender, while he played for James, and attributes that to driving him to alcohol and drugs during his NHL career, according to a new autobiography making waves in the Canadian media.

Fleury
Fleury

The book, "Playing With Fire," is Fleury's first comment on the subject, which has been speculated about for years. He also writes that he failed 13 drug tests during his career, but was never prevented from playing.

Fleury writes that James forced himself on Fleury during the player's junior days in Winnipeg.

"Graham was on me once or twice a week for the next two years," Fleury writes, according to several Canadian sources, including MacLeans. "An absolute nightmare, every day of my life."

NHL officials told ESPN.com they were not prepared to comment on the book's allegations at this time.

James, a well-known Canadian junior hockey coach, served 3 years in prison after being convicted of sexually abusing some of his players, including Sheldon Kennedy, the only player prior to Fleury to go public. James currently coaches junior hockey in Europe.

Fleury writes that "the direct result of my being abused was that I became a f---ing raging, alcoholic lunatic," according to the report in MacLeans.

"I no longer had faith in myself or my own judgment," Fleury writes. "And when you come down to it, that's all a person has. Once it's gone, how do you get it back?"

He writes that he didn't tell anyone about his ordeal because he was afraid it would jeopardize his career.

"I could see how it would play," Fleury writes. "I would have been stigmatized forever as the kid who was molested by his coach. The Victim."

Fleury played in the NHL for 16 seasons, the first 11 with the Calgary Flames before a trade to Colorado. Known as a feisty, fiery player, he had 1,840 penalty minutes in 1,084 career games and also scored 455 career goals. Fleury's last season in the NHL (2002-03) was spent with the Chicago Blackhawks; he tried to come back at age 41 with the Flames in training camp this fall but was cut.

Kennedy, according to the Toronto Star, said: "I knew, but it wasn't my place to say anything. I made a commitment to myself I wasn't blowing the whistle on anybody."