Marc-André Fleury will wear the Vegas Golden Knights uniform again next season. Like the Canadian with Carey Price (10.5 million) and Jake Allen ($ 4.35 million), the Golden Knights will allocate a large percentage of their payroll in net with Fleury ($ 7 million) and Robin Lehner ($ 5 million).
At the heart of rumors since the elimination of the Golden Knights in the second round of the playoffs in five games against the Dallas Stars, Fleury had promised to recall the representative of the Newspaper when the situation calmed down. He waited to know his fate before speaking publicly.
The 35-year-old keeper kept his promise. On Monday, Kelly McCrimmon won the derby for defender Alex Pietrangelo. The Knights general manager gave him a seven-year, $ 61.6 million ($ 8.8 million average) pact to lure him to the gambling capital of Vegas. The very night of this monster signing, McCrimmon clarified the situation of the goalkeepers in Vegas by mentioning that he would bet on Lehner and Fleury.
For Fleury, it was the end of a saga. But it also means the continuation of a Vegas number one two-seater marriage. Two days after the GM’s exit from the Golden Knights, Fleury offered her first impressions in an interview to the Newspaper, yesterday.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone. They don’t talk too much. Like everyone else, I saw the statements where Kelly (McCrimmon) said he would count on Robin and me, ”Fleury said in a generous telephone interview.
“I still found it surprising as an outcome. My name was circulating quite a bit for a transaction. But I am happy. I will be lucky enough to stay in Vegas. I will still play for a good team. I won’t have to move, which is also a good thing. “
Fleury believed he had to leave Las Vegas, especially after the confirmation, on October 3, of the pact of five years and $ 25 million for Lehner. On the mental level, the Quebecer found the last days distressing.
“During the last two weeks, I found it difficult, he replied. I was stressed. I watched the news, it wasn’t always good rumors for me. There are always a ton of rumors, but there aren’t many that come true. There were several uncertain things.
“You are also starting to think about where you might end up. And you start to make up scenarios. You are thinking of selling your house, of buying a new one. To have to find a new school for the little ones and many other things. Now that I’m staying in Vegas, I can relax.
“I’ve always loved my experience in Vegas,” he continued. It is a beautiful place to live there. It’s a good team and a good group of guys. The Golden Knights have great facilities. I would have found it boring to go from there. But I also understand the reality of hockey. It’s still a business. There is now a lot of money invested in two goalies. “
Play for him
At 35, soon to be 36, Fleury will now have to change her mentality a little. Unlike the other three camps with the Golden Knights, he won’t be leaving the year with number one status. It is Lehner, who will return from a shoulder operation, who will have this title.
Fleury is very aware of this reality.
“Yes, I am ready to share. This year, I also expect it to be a strange season. There will probably be several games in a few days, there will be a condensed schedule. I think not all teams will have the choice to use their two goalies. For this year, it will be a good thing to have two competitive goalies. It will give our team a good chance. ”
The changing of the guard within the goalkeepers should not, however, give him any additional motivation.
“Yes and no,” he replied. I want to play for myself. I want to have fun. I no longer have several years ahead of me. I know it’s Lehner their keeper. Me, I’m more likely to plug holes. They placed their trust in Lehner. I don’t think I can regain my number one spot, but I’m still going to fight to try to get back to it.
“I don’t have a problem with Robin. At the arena, I get on well with him, I have fun. There is no quarrel between us. We play for the same team and we are looking to do our job. He wants to play and I want to too. We have the same mentality. But there are no bad looks between us. He’s a good guy. ”
“Hockey is a business”
Marc-André Fleury will always remain the first strong image of the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL.
In their first season, the Golden Knights wrote an unimaginable storyline with a final appearance against the Washington Capitals.
Fleury was everywhere in Vegas. You could see her face on the famous strip. There was a huge chocolate fountain in his image at the chic Bellagio. It was a great story between the Sorel-Tracy goalie and the NHL’s new baby.
But great stories don’t last forever. And probably even less in professional sport.
Four starts in 20 games
In his third season in Vegas, Fleury ended up losing his position as number one goalie. Acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline, Robin Lehner became Peter DeBoer’s go-to man during the Knights’ playoff run. A course that ended in a second round elimination in five games against the Dallas Stars.
In the bubble in Edmonton, Fleury played in just four of her own 20 games. Lehner was clearly number one with 16 of 20 starts.
After the elimination of the Golden Knights, the No.29 expected to pack his bags. The Quebecer never demanded a transaction, but Kelly McCrimmon explored scenarios to trade it. In a market where several goalies were looking for a new address in the free agent market, the GM of the Knights has not found a dance partner for Fleury.
McCrimmon freed up two major salaries with the deals of Paul Stastny for Winnipeg and Nate Schmidt for Vancouver. Fleury, who will earn $ 7 million on payroll for the next two seasons, ultimately stayed in Vegas.
The last few days will likely leave a scar. But Fleury has too much class to freely express his disappointment. He belongs to the category of great teammates in the NHL. The story of the past few months has reminded him that loyalty will always be a rare phenomenon in the NHL. If he refused to skin Peter DeBoer or McCrimmon, he drew a parallel with his departure from the Penguins in 2017.
“The best way to explain it is to remember that hockey is a business. I remember leaving Pittsburgh. I had had conversations with Jim (Rutherford). He explained to me that I was getting older and that Matt Murray represented the future goalkeeper of the Penguins. He was to be the guardian of the future. I understood the message. Jim also told me that he would look to find me a good place. He told me he would study options and talk to me about it. I liked the approach, it was done with respect. Yes, I was disappointed to leave, but I was leaving for a new challenge with an expansion team. “