Ex-Flyer Todd Fedoruk remembers waking up one morning wondering whether he was going to wind up digging ditches, drawing pictures in a psychiatric ward or pushing daisies.
The player had a drinking problem but couldn’t do anything about it. He had major league hockey ability but a beer league outlook on life.
Fedoruk was stuck in a rut, seemingly destined to spend what few remaining years he had left in hockey bouncing around the minors.
All he had to look forward to was life as an alcoholic.
Holmgren took him under his wing, had a heart-to-heart talk and laid it on the line.
In a recent telephone conversation from Dallas, where he now plays for the Stars, Fedoruk talks both bluntly and gratefully.
He claims Holmgren saved his life.
“Either you wind up dead, in jail or in a psych ward,” Fedoruk says. “The one thing Paul said to me when I first went through some things was, ‘We’re willing to give you a second chance.’ It’s like writing a book. It’s the biggest comeback of your life.
“He’s been like a father figure to me. And probably a whole lot of other players.