Playing with Fire - Character Analysis

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Playing With Fire – Character Analysis – The causes of his problems. Anthony St. Onge The story of Theoren Fleury is not a happy one. It is filled with substance abuse, violence, poverty, physical abuse and even sexual abuse from his junior hockey recruiter and coach Graham James. In his book, Fleury lifts the lid on the entire harrowing tale, beginning when the Manitoba coach Graham James recruited him at 13 from his minor hockey team in Russell, Manitoba to play junior in Winnipeg. “Graham was on me once or twice a week for the next two years,” Fleury wrote of the assaults, whose memories remain vivid to him. “An absolute nightmare, every day of my life.” James required him to sleep two nights a week at the coach’s house, rather than with the woman with whom he’d been billetted. He tried to fight off the coach at first, wrapping himself in blankets each night and pretending to sleep as James attempted to masturbate him and give him oral sex. But the fear of James’s advances left him sleepless, and exhaustion broke him down. And so did James’ warning that if Theo goes public with what has been happening and James was taken away from him, that Fleury’s hopes of professional hockey would be nonexistent. Fleury, now 41, says he was particularly vulnerable to James’s psychological manipulation because had little in the way of a family support system. His father was an alcoholic and his mother was heavily addicted to prescription sedatives. James easily convinced them he was the best thing to ever happen to their son. “I had rarely seen them like this—happy,” he says. “Their boy had made it. My dad was no longer a worthless drunk and my mom drugged out and helpless.” When James’s Western Hockey League team, the Winnipeg Warriors, moved to Moose Jaw, both Fleury and Sheldon Kennedy (another young man abused by James) went with him. A year later, James was

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