Theoren Fleury says he is shocked to learn that Graham James, the junior hockey coach convicted of sexually abusing players, was granted a pardon.

The Canadian Press learned of the pardon, which was quietly granted in 2007, after a previously unknown accuser contacted police in Winnipeg.

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper calls the pardon a "deeply troubling and gravely disturbing" development that demands an explanation from the parole board.

James, now 58, pleaded guilty to sexual assault after two of his former players, including ex-NHLer Sheldon Kennedy, came forward to allege he abused them as teens from 1984 to 1995.

James was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison in 1997; his current whereabouts are unknown.

His latest accuser is still deciding whether to lodge a formal complaint with police, which former NHL star Theoren Fleury did in January after publishing a shocking tell-all memoir last year.

On Sunday, Fleury issued a statement saying, "I'm shocked and mystified. Imagine somebody who commits that kind of crime being pardoned. Obviously nobody was proud of the decision or it wouldn't have been a secret. I thought we had an open justice system. It's just more proof our society has a lot to learn about protecting the victims."

 With files from The Canadian Press