Yesterday was a very important day for the Calgary Flames forward Micheal Ferland. It wasn't a hockey milestone and it wasn't a birthday or wedding anniversary. It was much more than any of those.
Yesterday marked 2 years of sobriety for Ferland and he was happy to let everyone on social media know it.
It was a year ago that Kristen Odland did a story in the Calgary Herald marking Ferland's one year of sobriety.
"This is probably one of the biggest days of my life," Ferland said. "I never ever thought I'd quit drinking or be sober for a year..."
The Flames drafted Ferland 133rd overall in the 5th round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. After playing the 2011-12 season with the Brandon Wheat Kings, life began to turn in the wrong direction. Micheal ran into trouble when he was involved in a scuffle outside a bar in Cochrane, Alberta.
That fall, Ferland began his pro career playing with the Abbotsford Heat but was soon sent down to play with the Utah Grizzlies in the East Coast Hockey League but soon ended up back with the Wheat Kings and then traded to the Saskatoon Blades.
During the 2013 Flames training camp, Ferland found himself in Coach Bob Hartley's office as mentioned in another Calgary Herald article by George Johnson.
"I remember Ferly sitting across from me, right here, in my office," said Hartley. "We'd seen a few red flags. And I told him ‘Ferly, I know there's a problem. You need to come clean. This isn't only about a career, it's about life.'"
Ferland broke down in Hartley's office and then after going to see Brian Burke they began the process of getting him clean.
Ferland explained, in the Kristen Odland article,
"But if I stopped and focused on hockey, maybe I'd have a good career. And that's what I chose."
His story began back in Manitoba. Micheal was born in Swan River but grew up in Brandon in a single-parent home. They didn't have much and but he was able to play the game with help from KidSport and the Manitoba Metis Foundation.
In the George Johnson article, Ferland said his Mom found a way.
"There were years my sister had to work. I'm really grateful to both of them, for sure." -Micheal Ferland
Ferland has had a lot of support from the Flames organisation, girlfriend Kayleigh Chapman and former Flames player Brian McGrattan who himself went through problems with alcoholism and has now been over 5 years sober.
Ferland attends regular Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and is doing much better now that he has made the right choice and taken the right path.
"For me, coaching is to win hockey games. But, also, careers versus lives ... sometimes lives are way more important than careers." -Bob Hartley
We couldn't agree more Coach, and congrats Ferly!