As a star in the National Hockey League, Theo Fleury played more than 1,000 games from 1988 to 2003.
The small-framed winger (a forward position) electrified audiences, scoring 455 goals in a career that also saw him win a Stanley Cup in 1989 and an Olympic gold medal in 2002.
Now he’s got a new goal in mind: being a country music star.
Fleury announced his plans to make country music back in February and just released his debut single, “My Life’s Been a Country Song”. He detailed the decision in a press release:
“I know that when people hear that Theo Fleury made a country album, they’ll go, ‘Well … OK.’ And I wouldn’t say I’m the greatest singer in the world, but I’m a real singer.”
And he’s got the past to prove it: Fleury battled several off-ice issues during his career, including alcoholism and drug addictions. He was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1995 and detailed former sexual abuse by a coach in his best-selling autobiography, a revelation which resulted in a prison sentence for the coach.
“The album is definitely dark,” Fleury said. “The songs are all about my life, my experience, my struggle. But they’re also about coming through that struggle. At the end of every song, there’s hope.”
Fleury dealt with long odds during his time in the NHL, from almost not being selected in the draft to constantly having to prove himself due to his small frame (he’s only 5 foot 6 inches).
After his NHL career, he started a concrete business with his family, filmed a TV pilot, started a clothing line and even played a few games of professional baseball. But Fleury says music has always been a huge part of his life.
“Some of my fondest memories as a kid were listening to my grandfather play the fiddle,” Fleury said. “My dad sang and played guitar, my uncle sang and played the guitar. Music was always a huge part of any gathering we had as a family. And it was all country stuff, you know — Charley Pride, Buck Owens, Hank Snow, all those old guys. So that became my favourite genre of music. And making music was always in the back of my mind.”
The move may not be as odd as it seems. Fleury’s home of Western Canada, particularly Alberta and Saskatchewan, has a strong history of country culture. Not to mention, Fleury joins good company when it comes to Canadian country stars, from Hank Snow and Gordon Lightfoot to Shania Twain and Lindsey Ell.
His album I Am Who I Am is set for release Oct. 23