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Playing With Fire Hardcover – October 1, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Theo Fleury won a World Junior title, a Turner Cup, a Stanley Cup as a rookie with the Calgary Flames, and later a Canada Cup and an Olympic gold medal. A former player with the Colorado Avalanche, the New York Rangers, and the Chicago Blackhawks, he is now a motivational speaker and businessman. He lives in Calgary, Alberta. Kirstie McLellan Day is an author whose screenplays and books include the true-crime novel No Remorse: A Father's Murderous Rage; Under the Mat (the Diana Hart story); and Above and Beyond, a biography of cable magnate J. R. Shaw. She writes two weekly entertainment columns for the Calgary Herald and is the CEO of Pyramid Productions Inc., a film and television company. Wayne Gretzky is a former professional ice hockey player generally regarded as the best player in the history of the National Hockey League.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Triumph Books; First Edition edition (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600781993
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600781995
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #774,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Definitely would recommend Theo's story to hockey fans or anyone who is looking for a great memoir to read!
Mrs P.
It reads as if he is just telling his compelling story in a casual conversation, making the reader feel like he is listening to a friend reliving his past.
Jason Dellamater
A few things I really enjoyed about the reading of the book: All of the chapters are very short, but the book itself is a good length.
Flyinhighagain

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By B. Beazley on October 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the best memoirs I've ever read. Actually, it's one of the best books I've ever read. I've read a lot of memoirs and biographies, and this one is brutally honest -- heartbreakingly so.

Theo Fleury's book contains many stories. It's the story of a Canadian who grew up poor on the prairies and clung to his dream like a lifeline. It's a story of a broken, lonely childhood plagued by demons and abuse. It's a story about the drive to be the best at a particular sport. It's a story of addiction to booze, drugs, and sex. It's a story of both dizzying success and financial failure. But most of all, it's a story about what it means to be human and what it's like to live in constant pain...and to find relief in things that only make matters worse.

Anyone who loves hockey (especially the Calgary Flames) will love this book. Ditto anyone who's been abused or anyone who struggles (or struggled) with substance abuse and suicidal impulses. Theo has written a book for both sports fans and those who don't care about sports. His story is painful, but it deserves to be heard. And hopefully it will help anyone who struggles with the same issues that affected him.

Thank you, Theo, for writing this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By T. Durden on November 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have a lot more respect for Theo after reading what he was going through. I followed him since his rookie year, this book helps answer a lot of questions at to what was going on behind the scenes. Its actually a really good read and Im happy to see Theo where he is today. It says as much about abuse and addiction as it does about hard work and determination. Im a hockey, Flames and Theo fan so for me this book was a 5 out of 5.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Leak on November 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While I have NEVER been a real fan of Theo Fleury nor a fan of the Flames, I got the book because I always had respect for the little man that chose to play hockey like he was 6 foot 2. (plus the Flames were my dad's team since they were in Atlanta). It has given me alot of insight into why he played the game the way he did. I may not have liked Fleury, but I still respected him.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By happygarden on August 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
My husband who is not an avid reader but a sports enthusiast expressed a desire to get this book. I, however, read daily and found it lying around the house. The heart break written in these words is palpable This young man was set adrift in life with no conscience, love, or coping skills. The pain he has endured is immense. It is amazing that he ever made it to the levels he did in professional hockey. The book does not challenge the mind, the writing is minimal and harsh, but the pain he has endured is evident. There is a lot of disturbing course language and sexual content. However, this is likely an accurate reflection of his upbringing and life experiences. It is interesting to see the depths of despair a human spirit can flounder into. I wish him the best in his new life of sobriety and hope he has peace in the future. Theo Fleury describes the pain of sexual abuse, drug use, fame, fortune, and depression in heart wrenching detail and you do feel sorry for him despite his successes because he also has had so many many failures.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Flyinhighagain on March 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
One look at Theo Fleury and it's apparent what would be held against him his whole hockey career--5'6"! What's not apparent is the quick feet, great hands and scoring touch, and a fire inside to show you, by any means necessary, that he can and will beat you!

This book is the classic story of the undersized kid from Russell Saskachewan, who tore up junior leagues and minor leagues, to stand on top of the world in the NHL with Lord Stanley's Cup and over 450 career goals. Oh yeah, throw in a gold medal. Theo guides you through his life and career, telling funny stories from the road and locker rooms, like you were hanging out with him at some bar. He speaks candidly about his insatiable appetite for partying that cost him several relationships and ultimately his career, but really makes no apologies for it. His life does come full circle with happiness and sobriety, but the books never breaks into "self help" mode.

A few things I really enjoyed about the reading of the book: All of the chapters are very short, but the book itself is a good length. I like to read in short bursts, so this was perfect for me. There was also a good mix of road stories and life history. Theo was always very open and honest about his feelings. If he thought an opponent was a dirt bag, he definately did not mind saying it. The book was a very easy, interesting read and should be a manual for anyone that was ever told they were too small!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Roseanne E. Freese on January 1, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like one of the ghostly masks invented by the goalie Jacques Plante, the face of Theo Fleury, star forward and Stanley Cup winner of the Calgary Flames, floats on the front cover of his stunning and moving autobiography full of scars, shadows, and dust. Unlike Jacques, the 5'6", 150-pound right wing faced more than pucks flung by 230-pound demons. In this superb piece of hockey writing, Theo Fleury, with this co-author Kirstie McLellan Day, reveals to the world the dreams, suffering, and glories of his life. I loved this book - reading it three times for its insights into the wild and raunchy world of hockey, its reflections on the life broken by abuse and addiction, and for the sheer rhythm of its "thrill of victory and agony of defeat."

Theo came from Cree-Quebecoise (Métis) stock and grew up in the Canadian bush town of Russell, Manitoba. His first gear bag was an old pillowcase and he did not own a new pair of skates until he was a teenager. Yet, from the age of 5 he dreamt every day of playing in The Show, the National Hockey League. Fleury, however, was also born under a dark star. Theo's dad, a hockey player injured in his prime, had turned to alcohol and his mom found consolation in Valium and distraction in the doomsday dreams of the Jehovah's Witnesses. When a prominent coach, Graham James, who would later win a "Mr. Hockey" trophy from the Canadian junior leagues, took interest in him at the age of 13, young Theo thought that his dream of making the NHL would come true.

Unfortunately, Theo would have to pay a price that no child should ever have to pay. For three long years his coach molested him. Theo knew well that if he dared speak a word, his future would be forfeited, and worse, he and not James, would be blamed.
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