Fleury cements legacy along banks of Ohio River

Updated February 7, 2018 - 12:21 am

McKEES ROCKS, Pa. — The streets are narrow and depressed, abandoned buildings as gloomy as the gray weather that winter has again brought this western Pennsylvania borough along the south banks of the Ohio River.

It’s a town of 6,000 working-class folks that never really recovered from the collapse of the steel industry, never totally bounced back from the early 1980s and all-time unemployment rates, never knew much prosperity following the deindustrialization of the U.S.

The mills shut down, and everything sort of died along with it.

Which makes this all the more significant: It’s here, at the top of a long, winding road off one of those narrow streets, in a place where more than 35 percent of residents live in poverty, where Marc-Andre Fleury decided to make a difference.

Most of the young faces running around the Sto-Ken-Rox Boys & Girls Club on Tuesday will never meet the famous goalie, never know personally the player who 6 miles away in downtown Pittsburgh later that night returned to PPG Paints Arena for the first time since being left exposed by the Penguins and selected by the Golden Knights as part of the NHL expansion draft.

It was a homecoming of extreme emotion, highlighted by a first-period video tribute to Fleury, who would make 33 saves but finish on the short end of a 5-4 Penguins victory.

The calendar flipped to 2018 and so did a switch for the two-time defending champions. Pittsburgh has won 11 of 15 in the new year. Here we go again with these guys.

The game ended, and Fleury could be seen throwing his stick in a back hallway departing the ice.

He wanted this one as much as any.

“It will get easier playing against them in the future,” Fleury said. “Lot of stress. I found myself thinking too much. But tonight, I will never forget.

“I will forget the score, though.”

Fleury received his third Stanley Cup ring from the Penguins earlier in the day, and yet if the quote is really true that we should carve our name on hearts and not tombstones and that legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you, he set a fairly high standard before leaving the town that was home for 14 years.

The state-of-the-art playground painted in Penguins black and gold stands just outside the Boys & Girls Club entrance, a structure financed by Fleury and dedicated at a ceremony in June with the player, his wife and their two young daughters.

To one side of the all-weather rubberized flooring is a water feature Fleury had built for the town’s children to enjoy over hot summer months.

When you enter a side door, you come to Rink 29, a hockey dek named for Fleury, who also paid for the nets and score clock and sports equipment and educational materials and video games and all the consoles needed to play them.

Put it this way: They gave Fleury a wish list for everything the club needed to keep kids off the streets and safe after school.

They hoped he could provide a few of the items.

He provided all of them.

“We still can’t believe what the Fleury family did for our community,” said Kevin Nicholson, executive director of the club. “We have more kids now than we have ever had — 120 to 130 a day — and all of what he gave allowed them to be more active. Marc did this for all the right reasons. It’s something that will be here for a very long time.

“It’s a tough place for a lot of these kids. Not a lot of money. Even the younger ones who might not know who No. 29 is, we teach them. All of this was very needed.”

At one point Tuesday, a minivan pulled up and a 7-year-old boy bounded from the front seat, heading for another day of hockey inside Rink 29.

“The kids needed something like this in the neighborhood,” said his mother, Casey Bayer. “They deserve nice things to happen for them. Everyone loves Fleury here.”

In a town of 6,000 that never really recovered from the collapse of the steel industry, where the streets are narrow along the south banks of the Ohio River, they will share stories about the famous goalie who before leaving his adopted home, helped the most precious of things.

Its children.

“It’s what is important, yes?” Fleury said. “To give something back that will last.”

It is said to be how legacies are cemented, by carving your name on hearts and etching it into the minds of others.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

Golden Knights Videos
Golden Knights Fans Watch Game 5 At Henderson Pavilion - Video
Golden Knights fans gather at the Henderson Pavilion to watch game 5 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the San Jose Sharks. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Fans Land in San Jose - VIDEO
Four Golden Knights fans who traveled from Las Vegas talk about the experiences they've had in San Jose with fans and the police ahead of Game 5 and give their predictions for the final score of the game.
Shea Theodore says he's trying to be a threat in all phases - VIDEO
Vegas Golden Knights Defenseman Shea Theodore says he's trying to elevate his game in all phases and his teammate Alex Tuch talks about Theodore's growth as a player.
Knights preparing to play a "desperate" Sharks team on the road
The Vegas Golden Knights could close out their first playoff series on the road against the San Jose Sharks when Game 5 takes place at the SAP Center. The team says they're going to have to play their best to defeat a "desperate" opponent.
Coach Gallant speaks after practice, as the Golden Knights prep for Game 5
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant speaks to media after the team's open skate.
Sharks Coach: I think our emotions got away from us a little bit
Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer and center Joe Pavelski say the team needs to hold their emotions in check going forward. Pavelski talks about the Ryan Reaves effect.
2019 NHL Awards set for Mandalay Bay Events Center on June 19
During the 2018 NHL Awards in Las Vegas, tribute was paid to first responders and survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting by a handful of Vegas Golden Knights. NHL Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer said that's why the league is moving the show to the site of the tragedy. The Mandalay Bay Events Center will host the ceremony on June 19th.
Ryan Reaves says Joe Thornton's Hit was "Gutless" - Video
Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves says Sharks' forward Joe Thornton's hit on Tomas Nosek was "gutless." Thornton has been suspended for one game (game four on Tues., April 16) as a result of the hit.
Ryan Reaves Finally Throws Down with San Jose's Evander Kane - Video
Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves says the fight between him and Sharks' forward Evander Kane was nine years in the making. Spectators finally saw the two battle it out in game three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Ryan Reaves Finally Throws Down with San Jose's Evander Kane - Video
Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves says the fight between him and Sharks' forward Evander Kane was nine years in the making. Spectators finally saw the two battle it out in game three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Golden Knights rookie team coach Rocky Thompson on Rookie Faceoff
Golden Knights rookie team coach Rocky Thompson discusses team's 7-6 win over Colorado in the Vegas Rookie Faceoff
Fleury's newborn son attends Game 3 - VIDEO
Marc-Andre Fleury's newborn son and his wife Veronique were in attendance at the T-Mobile Arena during game 3. Fleury talks about having his family there to support him.
Sharks and Knights players get physical during game 3 - VIDEO
Several fights broke out during game 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Golden Knights and Sharks. Capping off the skirmishes was an intense showdown between Ryan Reaves and Evander Kane.
Golden Knights Fans Gather At T-mobile To Watch Game 3 Of The Playoffs - Video
Golden Knights fans gather outside of the T-Mobile arena to watch game three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Knights GM says it was important for the team to sign Nikita Gusev
Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee says it was important for the team to sign Russian standout Nikita Gusev. The Knights announced they had signed the forward to a one-year, entry level contract on Sunday. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marc-André Fleury on flamingo
Marc-André Fleury on flamingo
Golden Knights Watch Party For Game 2 Of Sharks Series - Video
Golden Knights fans gather at Top Golf to watch the second game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the San Jose Sharks.
Gallant addresses the media after practice following a 5-2 loss
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant addresses the media after practice following a 5-2 loss to San Jose in Game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. (Ben Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on lineup
Golden Knights Fans Gather Downtown For First Round of Playoffs - Video
Golden Knights fans gather downtown to watch the first game of the playoff series against the San Jose Sharks.
Golden Edge Mailbag - April 10, 2019 - VIDEO
Golden Knights reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer your burning questions.
Gallant on Golden Knights lineup against Sharks
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant on lineup against the San Jose Sharks for Game 1 of the first round in the Stanley Cup playoffs. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Prepare for Playoffs - Video
Golden Knights players Shea Theodore and Jonathan Marchessault feel that the team is both mentally and physically prepared to take on the Sharks in round one of the NHL Playoffs.
Golden Knights sign defenseman Jimmy Schuldt to a one-year contract
The Golden Knights have signed free agent defenseman Jimmy Schuldt to a one-year, entry level contract. Schuldt comes to the Golden Knights after graduating from St. Cloud State University, where he lead the Huskies to a regular-season conference title and the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Golden Knights letting playoff mentality set in - VIDEO
As the Vegas Golden Knights finish out their season, the team and head coach Gerard Gallant talk about where their mindset is, how they are preparing for the playoffs and their win over the Edmonton Oilers.
Golden Knights Lose to Wild, Clinch Playoff Berth - VIDEO
Despite losing 3-2 to the Minnesota Wild, the Vegas Golden Knights are locked in to a playoff spot. Head coach Gerard Gallant and players discuss their performance against the Wild and what it means to go back to the playoffs.
Gallant on losing to the Avalanche
Gerard Gallant talks about the loss to Colorado. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on Colorado loss
Gerard Gallant talks about the loss to Colorado. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge Mailbag- March 27, 2019 - VIDEO
Golden Knights reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer your burning questions.
Gerard Gallant on Paul Stastny
Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about Paul Stastny's role on the team. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on St. Louis goal
Gerard Gallant talks about St. Louis's third goal on March 25, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant on St. Louis Blues
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about the team's loss to St. Louis on March 25, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Host First Charity Night At T-Mobile Arena - VIDEO
The Vegas Golden Knights host their first annual charity night during the Red Wings game at T-Mobile arena. Fans were able to buy from two choices of backpacks full of VGK memorabilia. 1,500 Golden Knights Charity backpacks were filled and fans lined up to buy the backpacks. The charity gives it proceeds to various causes around Las Vegas in order to give back to the community.
Golden Knights shutout Winnipeg Jets, continue hot streak - VIDEO
The Vegas Golden Knights continue their hot streak as they shutout the Winnipeg Jets, 5-0. In their last 10 games, the Golden Knights have only lost once and have won four straight games.
Golden Edge Mailbag- March 20, 2019 - VIDEO
Golden Knights reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer your burning questions.
The Cast of FS1's "Lock It In" talk Raiders and Golden Knights futures
With Las Vegas growing as a pro sports town, the cast of Fox Sports 1's "Lock It In" give their betting predictions on if the Vegas Golden Knights can make another run at the Stanley Cup and if the Raiders will make a Super Bowl in 2020.
Vegas Golden Knights coach and players proud of their recent play
After a 6-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers, the Vegas Golden Knights say their proud of the way they're playing as they prepare to face the San Jose Sharks on the road.
Golden Edge Mailbag - March 14, 2019 - VIDEO
Golden Knights reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer your burning questions about how Mark Stone is affecting the team, Erik Brannstrom making his NHL debut and getting to know the team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant and the Golden Knights reflect on their win over the Calgary Flames - VIDEO
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant and players talk about protecting Marc-Andre Fleury when push came to shove. The team defeated the Calgary Flames 2-1 at the T-Mobile Arena and will take their 5-game win streak on the road.
Golden Edge Mailbag - March 6, 2019 - VIDEO
Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer questions submitted from Golden Knights fans.
William Karlsson talks before Ducks game
The Golden Knights center talked about Paul Stastny’s line, Reilly Smith’s between-the-legs goal and more.
Mark Stone Locker Room - Full Video
Mark Stone, who was traded Monday to the Vegas Golden Knights from Ottawa, speaks to the press about the move. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Golden Knights coach talks Mark Stone trade
The Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant discusses the team’s newest player, forward Mark Stone, acquired from the Ottawa Senators. (Ben Gotz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rain doesn't deter hockey fans
Golden Knights and Bruins fans waited in long lines in the rain to get in to the T-Mobile Arena for the hockey game on Wednesday night.
Rain doesn't deter hockey fans at the T-Mobile Arena
A solid amount of Golden Knights and Bruins fans showed up at the T-Mobile for the hockey game despite inclement weather descending upon Las Vegas.
Mike Kelly talks about Golden Knights injuries
The Golden Knights assistant coach discussed injuries and the “dog days” of the season, on Feb. 19
Golden Knights ready to celebrate Valentine's Day
Even though they have a game on Feb. 14, Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Reaves are ready to spoil the ones they love this Valentine's Day.
Gallant talks about losing streak
Gerard Gallant talks about breaking a four-game losing streak. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on finishing road trip
Gerard Gallant talks about finishing the road trip on a high note. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant talks about the win over Detroit
Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about the 4-3 win over Detroit on Feb. 7, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on Karlsson
Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about William Karlsson. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on breaking the losing streak
Gerard Gallant talks about breaking a four-game losing streak agains one the NHL's best teams. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on Valentin Zykov's goal
Gerard Gallant talks about Valentin Zykov's goal against Tampa Bay on Feb. 5, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-journal)
Gallant on penalty killing
Gerard Gallant talks about the Golden Knights' penalty killing against Tampa Bay on Feb. 5, 2019. (Davis Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant on facing Tampa Bay
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant on facing the Tampa Bay Lightning. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant on Valentin Zykov
Golden Knight coach Gerard Gallant talks about Valentin Zykov. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on next game after loss to Panthers
Coach Gerard Gallant talks to reporters after Knights loss to Panthers. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on big plays hurting Knights in loss to Panthers
Coach Gerard Gallant talks to reporters after Knights loss to Panthers. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on breakaway goals in loss to Panthers
Coach Gerard Gallant speaks to media after Knights loss to Panthers. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on loss to Panthers
Coach Gerard Gallent speaks about Knights loss to Panthers. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing