First time I spoke to @theofleury14, 4 yrs ago, I asked: Would you give up your favorite NHL goal, to save someone’s life?
He’d never been asked the question before. But he immediately said back to me…& it’s stuck w me since: “I’d give up my Stanley Cup ring & Olympic Gold Medal, just to change one person’s life. I was put on this planet – not to play hockey, but to use hockey as a platform to help others.” That was a wow moment.
A little over a month ago, @emilymkaplan hockey reporter for ESPN who I’ve become friendly w, texted me & said: I gotta intro you to @brent_sopel formerly of the Blackhawks & other teams. You guys will just get each other. You’ll see.
Again not that much more than a month ago….& Emily was spot on. Brent’s become a friend in just a short period of time – someone I’d run thru a wall for, just like Theo.
I invited Brent to come speak on a panel I was asked to moderate for the Broward MH Summit last wk. We had some docs, & other folks w lived experiences lined-up, but ever since I was intro’d to Brent I just felt he had in his heart, this burning desire to help ppl.
He absolutely rocked the panel. Sat in the middle :). But he shook ppl w his vulnerability. A 6-foot+ guy, Stanley Cup champ, & he’s on a panel, not long after his hockey career, tearing up as he’s talking abt his dyslexia, & how being called dumb as a child bc he couldn’t read, had a profoundly negative impact on his MH.
My flight was out of Tampa 3 days later. Had one of our volunteers out there I wanted to go see. Brent lives in Tampa. He drove me back, offered me a place to stay for the 3 days I was there, & threw me his keys to take his truck whenever I needed.
I watched him grind on the phone, as he’s now building a solar business, & hiring/helping former minor league hockey players get some footing in the space. He’s even opened his house to a few of them.
Back to the Theo question – Brent has a few things in his house that are reminders of his career…but they don’t matter to him the way that you’d think. He’s a man on a mission to help others bc of what he’s been thru himself. He’s found purpose: Now, after hockey.