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Souray: 'Asking for help wasn't my strong suit'

Fan favorite Sheldon Souray shares his post-retirement struggles in a candid interview on The Alumni Lounge podcast

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

MONTREAL - "It's an easy life, it's a simple life and it's a good life."

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That's how former Canadiens defenseman Sheldon Souray described his current circumstances during a recent appearance on The Alumni Lounge podcast, presented by ScotiaAdvice+.

When you hear what the 44-year-old Albertan and father of two has going on, you'd likely agree with that statement.

Souray resides in Nevada, summers in Idaho, got engaged to model Tess Annique this past fall, loves his daughters Valentina and Scarlett with all his heart, and spends his days golfing in beautiful surroundings.

Yes, the three-time All-Star, who played 758 regular season games with New Jersey, Montreal, Edmonton, Dallas and Anaheim over the course of his 13-year career, definitely has it made.

But things haven't always been so picture perfect for Souray in retirement.

Admittedly, he has battled his fair share of demons along the way.

"You think you're going to love retirement, you think that having all this time on your hands is going to be so satisfying, but I was just lost for a couple of years. It was a slippery slope of injuries, feeling sorry for myself and feeling entitled. I got into taking pills, I got into disconnecting from people and just kind of not being myself," shared Souray, during a revealing chat with host Patrice Brisebois and co-host Chantal Desjardins. "I went and got some help and I've been sober for almost three-and-a-half years. It's been a wild ride. There are a lot of relationships that I've made during hockey that have helped me play golf now and get a paycheque for it. That's just not real world stuff, and I'm just super grateful for the path I've been on."

There were several additional factors that facilitated Souray's downturn, including the passing of his father, Richard, from a stroke in June 2016 at age 69, and a long-term relationship he "wasn't happy in."

At his lowest point, the man who still holds the Canadiens' franchise record for most points in a single game by a blueliner with six (1 goal, 5 assists), finally felt compelled to seek professional guidance and support.

"There's no just way I could've sustained it. I'm glad I'm here talking to you guys today. Some guys aren't as lucky. Some guys don't get the help. The NHLPA really helped me out," explained Souray, who desperately wanted to turn his situation around. "I was just going to die. It just felt like that's the point I got to. I was like, 'I don't think I can go another day.' It's hard. Asking for help wasn't my strong suit. I always wanted to take care of guys. Asking for help was not something that was easy for me."

And yet, he did it, because he had every reason to fight the good fight.

Souray couldn't have imagined leaving his family members behind, broken and searching for answers.

"I've got kids, and they're the most important thing in the world to me. Even though I lost my dad, I had a mom who was living, and my kids count on me. It was just the thought of like, 'Wow, if I left, and my kids had to go to school one day and explain that they didn't have their dad, that would've been the most horrible thing I could've ever done, especially after being blessed with such a great life.' I have a lot of gratitude for where I am today and some of those experiences," affirmed Souray. "I wish it didn't have to be so hard. I like to learn hard lessons, not just a slap on the wrist. But here we are."

Souray shares his recovery tale openly in hopes that it'll serve as a beacon of hope for those who find themselves in a similar predicament.

He's proof positive that personal obstacles can be overcome and life can begin anew.

"When I was nine months sober, I did an article with [sports columnist] Stu Cowan in Montreal. I really didn't want to tell the story because I felt like I didn't have enough sobriety under my belt. But I was told that maybe my story will help someone," mentioned Souray. "I couldn't believe the response. I probably had 50 to 100 messages on my social media. It's a part of my story, and maybe it'll help someone who's listening."

Money doesn't grow on trees

An 18-year-old Souray also learned a "hard lesson" shortly after inking his first NHL contract with the Devils.

Upon his return to the Tri-City Americans (WHL) in Washington state, he visited a local Jeep dealership to purchase a new ride with his signing bonus.

After being told that the vehicle cost $35,000, Souray headed to a bank to withdraw the funds.

Unbeknownst to him, though, this particular financial institution didn't have the cash on hand, and he was forced to return several days later to complete the transaction.

Watch: Youtube Video

When he visited the dealership again, he failed to take something rather important into account, which slowed the final process down a bit.

"I put this paper bag on the manager's desk and said, 'There you go, there's $35,000 cash. I'm taking that Jeep.' He goes, 'It's about $38,000 because of the taxes.' I had no idea about finances," joked Souray. "I had to go back and get more money for the taxes. I was such an idiot."

Like a good son, he used the rest of the signing bonus to pay his parents' bills.

The Alumni Lounge and Le Salon des Anciens podcasts feature in-depth interviews with some of the organization's most popular players of the past.

The inaugural season of the pod will include 10 episodes, which will alternate languages each week under two separate titles in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other podcast hosting platforms.

They will also be available as full video episodes on the Canadiens' YouTube channel.

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