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Fleury wishes dad was alive to discuss Vezina trophy win

Updated June 29, 2021 - 8:26 pm

Marc-Andre Fleury found out he won the Vezina Trophy the day after the Golden Knights were eliminated from the Stanley Cup semifinals and had to record a video with one of his goaltending idols, Martin Brodeur.

“I was maybe not in the best mood that morning,” Fleury admitted.

With a few days to decompress, Fleury was back to his usual jovial self Tuesday when he was revealed as the winner of the trophy for the league’s top goaltender during the NHL Awards show.

It is the first time the Knights star earned the honor during his 17-year career and solidified Fleury’s Hall of Fame resume.

Fleury received 14 first-place votes from the league’s general managers and finished with 108 voting points to edge 2019 winner Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning (99 points). Philipp Grubauer of Colorado was third with 36 points.

In addition, Fleury was named to the NHL’s Second All-Star Team for the first time, which is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Vasilevskiy was selected to the first team.

“Whenever you look at the list of guys that won this trophy, I love watching and idolized watching, it’s such an honor to be amongst them,” Fleury said. “Our team had such a commitment to play the right way and play well defensively and blocking shots and making me look better. For a goalie to win this you still need a good team in front of you to help you out.”

Fleury, 36, bounced back from a difficult season when his father died Nov. 27, 2019, and he lost the starting job to Robin Lehner during the playoffs.

The Knights looked into trading Fleury during the offseason before deciding to retain both goaltenders for the condensed, 56-game schedule.

Fleury shouldered the load for the Knights during the regular season with Lehner sidelined more than a month because of concussion and finished tied for third in the league with 26 victories.

Fleury posted career bests in goals-against average (1.98) and save percentage (.928), while his six shutouts also ranked third in the league. He surpassed Roberto Luongo for third place on the all-time list with 492 career victories and also moved into a tie for 14th place on the NHL’s all-time shutout list (67).

“For this season, after going through a tough one last year, losing my dad and all that, I wish he could have been here and talked to him about it,” Fleury said. “I’m just happy how things turned out this season.”

Fleury and Lehner combined to win the Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals in the regular season, making Fleury the first goaltender in history to earn his first individual award in his 17th season or later.

Prior to this season, Fleury had never finished higher than fourth in the voting for the Vezina Trophy. He is the oldest winner of the award since Boston’s Tim Thomas, who was 37 in 2011.

Fleury worked with Knights goalie coach Mike Rosati to remain deeper in his crease and said it improved his play against rebounds and cross-ice passes.

“I’m not as quick or as flexible as I used to be in my young 20s. I think I understand the game better,” Fleury said. “Seventeen years later, you’ve seen a lot of pucks. You’ve seen a lot of plays. I think it makes it a little easier to understand and read plays. I think it definitely helps.”

Fleury has one year remaining on his contract and is a sure-fire Hall of Famer once he retires.

Along with winning the Vezina Trophy, Fleury owns three Stanley Cups and an Olympic gold medal.

“I still feel like if I still have fun playing, or if I don’t have fun playing, then that will be it,” Fleury said. “If I still can help my team and enjoy what I do every day and come to the rink, have fun, have a smile and be with the guys, that’s what’s going to dictate when I hang them up or keep playing.”

Fleury is the first member of the Knights to win an individual NHL award since 2018 when William Karlsson (Lady Byng Trophy), Deryk Engelland (Mark Messier Leadership Award), Gerard Gallant (Jack Adams Award) and George McPhee (Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award) were honored.

In addition, Shea Theodore finished sixth for the Norris Trophy as the top defenseman and Mark Stone was ninth in the voting for Hart Trophy as most valuable player. Defenseman Zach Whitecloud received votes for the all-rookie team.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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