Skip to main content

Theo Fleury hopes to help, heal through 'Conversations with a Rattlesnake'

Theo Fleury's struggle with drug and alcohol abuse led to the downfall of an outstanding career and in 'Conversation with a Rattlesnake,' a book co-authored by occupational therapist Kim Barthel, Fleury dives into what led him to react the way he did.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

By Andrew McCormack The Calgary Flames are out of the post-season, and it’s been 26 years now since they won their lone Stanley Cup in 1988-89 with rookie Theo Fleury on the roster. The 46-year-old native of Oxbow, Sask., who always dreamt of playing in the NHL, is now on a mission to improve mental health through promoting an understanding of the effects of trauma. The November 2014 release of Conversations with a Rattlesnake – coauthored by occupational therapist Kim Barthel – is the second book by Fleury, following 2010’s Playing with Fire. He chose entertainment writer Kirstie McLellan Day to tell readers about his tough home life as a child, the sexual abuse his junior hockey coach, Graham James, subjected him to as a teenager, his drug and alcohol addiction, and being on the brink of committing suicide.

“(McLellan Dae) is a very famous Hollywood reporter and there is so much shock value in (Playing with Fire) that she didn’t understand what was behind the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction,” Fleury said. “Conversations with a Rattlesnake doesn’t sensationalize the top layer, it goes through all these layers so I can fully understand why, in Playing with Fire, I reacted the way I did.” Conversations with a Rattlesnake, named after the snake’s ability to shed its skin and reinvent itself, is essentially a transcript of two-and-a-half years’ worth of dialogue between Fleury and Barthel. It explains how his mother’s depression and father’s “raging alcoholism” he experienced growing up shaped how he would react to trauma later in life. Barthel details how Fleury’s early relationships hardwired his brain to react to things in certain ways. She also shows there is room to rewire the brain, like a rattler changes its complexion. Fleury hopes conversation begets healing. If so, the thousands of people he says have come up to him since 2010 saying, “hey, this happened to me too,” must be the start of something.

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

TOP HEADLINES

03_20210601_RUS_BEL_KUZ_1_14
Play

Russia, Belarus Entries Suspended for 2023 World Championship Events

At the IIHF Annual Congress in Finland this week, a decision was made to "freeze the participation" of Russia and Belarus at World Championship events in 2023.

Dylan Cozens
Play

Dylan Cozens' Play With Canada Should Excite Sabres Fans

As Canada gets set for the playoff round, Buffalo Sabres forward Dylan Cozens has cemented himself as a key piece for the team's gold medal hopes on the top line.

USATSI_18354579
Play

Colorado Avalanche Advance to Western Conference Final

The Colorado Avalanche are off to the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs after beating the St. Louis Blues in six games.