Pop Culture

Stars in Cars: NHL Legend Theo Fleury

Theo Fleury was one of the smallest players in the NHL, but he was a force to be reckoned with – a fierce and aggressive competitor who won a Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames in 1989 and a gold medal with the Canadian men’s hockey team at the 2002 Olympics. The former NHL star had a rich career lacing up with the New York Rangers, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Colorado Avalanche, but it wasn’t always easy. Fleury battled drug and alcohol addictions and sexual abuse at the hands of disgraced hockey coach Graham James. But he overcame those obstacles and now is a motivational speaker, an advocate for sexual abuse victims, and author of his second book, Conversations with a Rattlesnake. In the midst of a national book tour, when he has book signings near home he’ll drive his own wheels: a 2013 Lincoln MKS.

PG: What does a Lincoln MKS say about you?

TF: “I’m practical. I live within my means. I’m not extravagant. I just like a nice comfortable ride, which is the Lincoln. It’s like sitting in my living room driving down the highway.”

“I love my Ford products. I travel a lot in my car over this great country of ours. It’s a nice luxury car, it’s not too expensive, and it’s good on gas.”

PG: In the past Lincoln was known as an old man’s car - are actors like Matthew McConaughey making Lincoln cool again?

TF: “Yeah, I think so. But I think all of the car companies have really taken what happened in 2008 and said we need to start building better products and take a better look at our business. I don’t think there’s any bad cars out there anymore.”

PG: Does the MKS have the speed of an NHL player?

TF: “Of course it does, yeah.”

PG: Have you had any speeding tickets?

TF: “I’ve had a few – absolutely.”

PG: Do the cops let you off because they recognize you or are they tougher on you?

TF: “A little bit of both. I’ve had to pay some tickets and sometimes I’ve been able to walk away.”

PG: Did you pass your driver’s license on the first try?

TF: “I failed it three times before I actually got it. I changed lanes in an intersection – that’s against the law. Parallel parking was difficult for me, too.”

“I learned by trial and error. You should have seen when I tried to drive a stick for the first time! It was embarrassing. I probably stalled it a thousand times. Kangaroo gas was going on. It took a while for me to pick it up. I still prefer an automatic over a stick.”

PG: What was your first car?

TF: “I was playing junior in Moosejaw, cutting grass at the golf course in the summer time as a job. I was getting up at 5 o’clock in the morning to cut grass at the golf course and the fruits of my labour were a white Chevy Chevette that got me from A to B. It never broke down. It was an awesome car. I loved it. It was the first car I ever owned so obviously growing up very poor I quickly realized that hard work will get me everywhere.”

PG: What did you buy when you landed your first NHL contract?

TF: “I signed my contract with the Calgary Flames in 1987 and I upgraded to a used Toyota Supra. I drove that car for a couple of months and went, ‘This really isn’t that practical for me.’ So I ended up trading it in for a Chevy S10 pickup truck. I drove that for the first 3-4 years of my hockey career…”

“I had a Viper for a while. I had a BMW for a while – I thought it was okay. I owned a Mercedes and it was okay. But I just love my Ford products. They’ve suited me well. I would compare the MKS, the car I’m driving right now, to the BMW 740 – it’s got all the same bells and whistles and its $70,000 less!”

“I’m very loyal. Once I find something I like I stick with it. North America is where it’s at.”

PG: Have you ever bought or sold anything on autoTRADER.ca?

TF: “I’ve definitely used autoTRADER.ca to look for cars for family members and my kids are getting to the point where they are going to start driving and need cars. I think we’ll definitely go down that road when it happens.”

PG: What do you listen to on the road?

TF: “Only country.”

PG: Do you sing behind the wheel, too?

TF: “Of course. I love 80s country – George Strait, Alabama, Reba.”

PG: Do people do double-takes when you’re belting out tunes in your Lincoln?

TF: “Of course. It’s awesome. It’s embarrassing for them – not for me.”

PG: What’s your favorite stretch of road?

TF: “I love every time when I cross the border from Alberta to Saskatchewan cause it feels like home. You can never take the Prairie out of the boy.”

“I love driving. When you grow up in the Prairies you practically live in your car, going to hockey tournaments. There’s a lot of team bonding that happens in cars, traveling all across the prairies playing hockey tournaments.  If I could, I would drive everywhere. But unfortunately I can’t drive from Calgary to Toronto in one day, which is where the hub is for all these events I have to do. But if I could drive I would. It gives me time to think and it’s a process. I sing and write music, too, so being on the road inspires lyrics, times and places.”

PG: Do cars make the man?

TF: “No. It’s the guy that’s driving the car that makes the car.”

Theo Fleury

Profession: Former NHL player, author, and motivational speaker
Age: 46
Hometown: born in Oxbow, SK; raised in Russell, Manitoba
My Car: 2013 Lincoln MKS

Notable achievements:
• released his first bestselling book, Playing with Fire, in 2009
• won countless awards including the Canadian Humanitarian Award, The Queen’s Jubilee Medallion, and the Aboriginal Inspire Award
• received an honorary doctorate in Science from the University of Guelph-Humber
• drafted by the Calgary Flames in 1987; played more than 1,000 NHL games from 1989–2003

• criss-crossing the country promoting his latest book, Conversations with a Rattlesnake: Raw and honest reflections on healing and trauma