Marc-Andre Fleury of the Golden Knights is much more than a goaltender.
The team’s most valuable player thus far has been at the center of many fan-created tributes during the Knights’ run to the Stanley Cup Final, and he’ll likely be a part of many more before the series is over.
“That’s Vegas stuff right there. It’s pretty awesome, and he (the real Fleury) should get a lot more attention than he’s getting. I’m really happy for him,” Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault said after Bellagio unveiled its chocolate Fleury in early April.
Marchessault should’ve been careful with what he wished for, because the attention on Fleury and the Golden Knights has increased by leaps and bounds since that 90-pound confection was released after five weeks of work by Bellagio Patisserie assistant executive pastry chefs Yamilet Hillers and Jerome Jacob.
The team began to take over the Las Vegas Strip, with the Statue of Liberty outside of New York-New York sporting a Golden Knights jersey and a statue outside of Caesar’s Palace grabbing a flag and hockey stick.
More subtle tributes popped up as well, with plenty of local bars and restaurants offering new Golden Knights-themed food and drink. Then the homages started wading into the bizarre, including when hockey fan Randy Dudek changed Nevada’s state flower on Wikipedia to Fleury on May 8.
Nevada’s state reptile also changed to Golden Knights mascot Chance the Gila Monster by the next day.
“Everything is true on Wikipedia, right? Everything is legit there.” Fleury said. “That’s pretty cool.”
The Golden Knights’ most adorable tribute though may also be one of its smallest. Fan Rick Williams’ 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier, who goes by Fenway at home, becomes Bark-Andre Furry when he enters the team’s practice facility, City National Arena.
The pet’s public persona, a nod to Fleury, has grown and grown since the goaltender arrived in Las Vegas after the expansion draft and is now a social media sensation. It all culminated when Fleury got to meet the dog after practice on May 10, and even signed the dog’s youth-sized jersey.
“There’s so many people that have gravitated towards (Bark-Andre Furry),” Williams said. “We’ll see where it takes us. I’m just going to continue to have fun with it.”
Fan/Local business tributes to Golden Knights
— Making Chance the Gila Monster the state reptile on Wikipedia