The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame introduced their 2018 inductees — headlined by former Calgary Flame and NHL all-star forward Theoren Fleury.
Fleury credited his success on the ice to be able to play on some great teams.
“With team success comes personal success,” he said. “I am going in as an individual but I have to acknowledge all the guys I played minor hockey with, the coaches, managers and the teams I had the great fortune of being a part of.
Fleury added he was thinking of the many people who helped him experience success on the ice.
“They gave me opportunities when people weren’t giving opportunities to 5’6” guys,” he said. “All the amazing leaders I had the opportunity to be around and to watch and being able to be a part of the great game of hockey.”
Fleury was amazed by the other inductees, particularly the 1989 and 1990 Calgary Colts.
“People often ask me ‘What does winning mean?’,” he said. “Well winning means you share a special bond with a group of people. There are guys I have played on many teams with where we didn’t win and I don’t keep in contact with those guys.
“The teams that I won with, there is a certain bond and closeness that winning creates. It is great to see that team being celebrated.”
Fleury was born in Saskatchewan and raised in Manitoba, but now considers himself an Albertan.
“I was a part of the Stanley Cup winning team and I played for 11 years in Calgary,” he said. “I was part of the amazing rivalry between the Oilers and Flames.
“The longest I have lived in my life has been in Alberta. I consider myself an Albertan. I was born in Saskatchewan and raised in Manitoba but I’m Albertan and very proud of that.”
He added he hopes that smaller athletes, like himself, continue to believe in their abilities.
“I think the biggest thing for me is that I didn’t listen to the noise or other people’s projections of me,” he said. “Nobody knew who I was, they just saw me as a small guy. If I would have listened to that noise, I probably wouldn’t have made it.
“I believed in my ability, my character, my toughness and those are the characteristics that made me successful once I got to the NHL.”
Fleury, in his retirement, now is an advocate for victims of abuse, sexual abuse, trauma and violence and looks to help people towards healing paths.
“I feel very blessed to be able to do the work I do nowadays. There is way too much pain and suffering in the world and I think it is completely unnecessary,” he said. “I get to travel around this amazing country and help people deal with the after-effects of all these afflictions.
“Hopefully I can give them the inspiration to start a journey of healing and self-discovery.”
Also inducted into the Hall was local Central Albertan broadcaster Dianne Finstad, who has worked in ag and rodeo media for many years and has worked at the Canadian Finals Rodeo, the National Finals Rodeo, the Calgary Stampede, the Ponoka Stampede and many other events.
Finstad said it was a mix of emotions being inducted and that she finds it hard not to report on the stories she was hearing about the athletes being inducted.
“When you hear those stories, I am just fascinated and I am looking forward to tonight,” she said regarding the induction banquet. “There is so much sports history represented and I am grateful to be part of this.
“I am grateful the Hall has the Bell Memorial Award which talks about reporters. I am glad the sport of rodeo is included in all of this and it is going to be a fun night. Rubbing shoulders with this crew is really cool for me.”
Finstad was excited to be able to represent Central Alberta in the Hall.
“It is nice to have my connections and to have the celebration be right here,” she said. “I hope that more people will come see this Hall. There is so much here, we have rich history of sports in Alberta and it is very diverse.”
She added she is happy to still be working and that she can advocate for the sport of rodeo.
“As reporters, it can sometimes be a bit of an adversarial thing,” she said. “In the sport I got to cover, we were cheering along with the cowboys and trying to bring more awareness to the sport.
“As the sport grows, it is cool to be a part of that. You hope by sharing what cool people and great competitors rodeo people are, that to me is something I am proud of.”
In total, 12 Albertans were selected to be enshrined into the hall including: Doug Barkley, hockey athlete/builder; Keely Brown, ringette athlete; Leighann Doan Reimer, basketball athlete; Cindy Klassen, speed skating athlete; Theoren Fleury, hockey athlete; Phil Allen, basketball builder; Dave King, hockey builder; Dr. Lorne Sawula, volleyball builder; the Calgary Colts 1989 & 1990 Junior Football Team; Stuart Erskine, who recieved the Achievement Award for mountaineering; Dianne Finstad, who won the Bell Memorial Award for her work in the media; and Robert Davies who won the Pioneer Award for his work in basketball.