Cops investigating claim against coach

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Winnipeg police are investigating the criminal complaint filed by former NHL star Theo Fleury alleging he was sexually assaulted by his junior hockey coach.

"Members of the Winnipeg Police Service Sex Crimes Unit have entered into an investigation as result of a compliant filed by Mr. Theoren Fleury," police said in a statement Friday.

The longtime Calgary Flames forward announced Thursday on his Web site that he was filing a complaint against Graham James, whom Fleury accused in his recent autobiography of sexually abusing him repeatedly during the 1980s.

"The investigation will include consultation with police agencies outside of the province and in the United States," the police statement said.

James pleaded guilty in 1997 to repeatedly sexually assaulting two teen players between 1984 and 1995. He was arrested after Sheldon Kennedy, then an NHL player, came forward with allegations of abuse while playing for James in junior hockey.

James was convicted in 1997 of abusing Kennedy and one other unnamed player and received 3½ years in jail.

Fleury said he struggled with the decision to lodge a criminal complaint against James.

"I have been reflecting on this a long time," he said on his Web site. "I wanted to make the biggest impact on preventing this kind of thing from happening in the future."

In his book, "Playing With Fire," Fleury said the sexual abuse he suffered as a teen transformed him from a confused young man into an angry, self-loathing boozer who blew millions of dollars on cards, drugs and lap dances.

Fleury played more than a 1,000 games in the NHL for the Flames, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks before being derailed by drugs and alcohol.

He attempted a comeback with the Flames last fall but was cut and retired from hockey.