Marc-Andre Fleury’s love for game could prove golden for Knights

Updated October 5, 2017 - 1:40 pm

DALLAS — At some point, a Hall of Fame argument will be made on his behalf. It could go either way, his highs having soared beyond the peak of Everest and his lows wading amid the salinity of the Dead Sea.

But none of it, not the gold medal at the Winter Olympics, not the three Stanley Cup championships, not losing his job to a younger goalie, not the fact some of his worst moments have come in the playoffs, not being exposed in an expansion draft and shipped away from the only NHL home he knew, changed how Marc-Andre Fleury views his place on the ice.

If history is indeed written by winners, Fleury more than anyone else wearing a Golden Knights sweater deserves to hold a pen, for it is his likeness by which the first major league professional sports franchise in Las Vegas will be defined.

But when the team’s inaugural season begins against the Dallas Stars on Friday at American Airlines Center, Fleury will embark on the sort of journey he hasn’t known since being drafted by Pittsburgh in 2003, when the prospects for a season will assuredly produce more losses than wins.

What then, at age 32 and having two years remaining on his contract, drives a player whose former team averaged almost 50 wins a year since 2006 (not counting the lockout-shortened season in 2012) to hunger for more?

How does the only player to appear in 13 straight seasons wearing a Penguins uniform discover the desire and mental toughness to, in most every way, start over?

“Stop the puck and win games,” Fleury said. “Always, the same stuff.

“You know, I love the game. I play it, I watch it, I’m a fan of it. At first (in Pittsburgh), I just wanted to make a good impression and make the team. I was able to stick around a bit. Now, I am here to help build this team from the ground up and help make us good as soon as possible. You can always get better. Until I stop every puck in every game, I can be better.”

He isn’t the biggest guy, certainly not what you might expect when watching that powerful butterfly slide. His technical skills are near flawless, his athleticism and flexibility beyond measure.

He might be 6 feet 2 inches tall and 180 pounds. Maybe.

But he also takes a lot of risks, and for this can find himself in trouble and a red light circling behind him, which begs an obvious question: While it’s one thing for a goalie to be ultra-aggressive playing with a Stanley Cup champion roster, how will such tactics prove with that of an expansion one?

How much will that superior upper body balance mean if those defending can’t keep the other guys off him?

“Marc is so smooth,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “He is naturally blessed. It’s sort of like comparing the skating of Paul Coffey to me. One of us was very natural. He would laugh when he skated by and you had trouble getting going. Marc is the same way. He makes it look so easy.”

No goalie is good with traffic, so the way to beat someone such as Fleury is to get him scrambling and hope for rebounds and try to grind him down. Pretty easy to say. Really hard to do.

Nate Schmidt, however, has seen Fleury at his best, which in turn meant a bad result for the Knights defenseman.

It was during a second-round playoff series last season when Fleury, filling in for an injured Matt Murray, the young star who had taken his job, made 29 saves in a 2-0 win over the Washington Capitals in Game 7.

The victory sent Pittsburgh back to the Eastern Conference finals and was Fleury’s ninth playoff shutout.

The Penguins don’t win a second consecutive Cup without him.

“He was so good, so much that I have now told him the bar is set so high, he needs to play like that for us every single game,” said Schmidt, selected from Washington in the expansion draft. “He can adapt to anything and makes saves you don’t expect him to. He’s just very calm in big games. That’s what separates good goalies from great ones. That poise. He still competes to be better today than yesterday.”

Gallant has been around Fleury for three weeks or so now, trying to learn all the new personalities and games of those in his locker room. He sees that the face of the franchise is almost always smiling, that he’s still like a little boy trying on his first pair of skates.

Could it be, then, as simple as Fleury suggests?

Could such dramatic change at this point in his career be overshadowed by the purity of his endearment for the game?

“I just want to be good,” he said.

Maybe that’s what made him so great.

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

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.

ad-high_impact_4
Golden Knights Videos
Golden Edge: Off Season Update
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and sports columnist Ed Graney go over the Knights free angency and signing Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury on his three-year extension: To stay in Vegas a long time was big
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said he's glad he'll be a part of the team for a long time. Fleury spoke about signing a three-year contract extension at a news conference at the City National Arena in Las Vegas on Friday.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Thursday, July 5
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Golden Edge: Free Agency Update
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Golden Knights beat writer David Schoen go over the latest free agency news from the Vegas Golden Knights.
Golden Edge: Knights Host Scrimmage
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Knights second day of scrimmage at City National Arena.
Golden Edge: Prospects Prepare For Scrimmage
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Knights getting ready to participate in a scrimmage for the next few days.
Golden Edge: Previous Prospects Fight For Spot
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over day two of the Golden Knights development camp.
Golden Edge: One-On-One With Reid Duke
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond interviews Golden Knights prospect Reid Duke.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Wednesday, June 27
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Development Camp
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Golden Knights development camp and how the prospects are looking to improve their game.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, June 26, 2018
David Perron, James Neal set to leave Golden Knights
David Perron, James Neal set to leave Golden Knights Perron and Neal were key contributors on the second line for the Knights, helping the expansion team to the Pacific Division and Western Conference championships. Perron’s agent, Allan Walsh, told the Review-Journal on Sunday that the Knights have not made a new contract offer since the season ended. Neal turned down a five-year, $25 million offer from the Knights at the trade deadline, according to the Calgary Sun.
Golden Edge 2018 NHL Draft Recap
Bryan Salmond Recaps The Vegas Golden Knights 2018 Draft picks Rounds 2-7.
Golden Edge : NHL Draft Round 1
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the first round of the NHL Draft picks and the rumors surrounding the Knights recruiting Ilya Kovalchuk.
Golden Knights 2018 NHL Draft Preview
Golden Edge video host Bryan Salmond provides a preview heading into the 2018 NHL Draft and Golden Knights General Manager George McPhee discusses how the team has prepared for it.
Golden Knights Release Schedule For 2018-19 NHL Season
Golden Knights release schedule for 2018-19 NHL season. The Golden Knights will play five of their first six games on the road. The Knights are at Washington on Oct. 10 in a rematch of the Stanley Cup Final and face Pittsburgh the following night. The NHL previously announced the Knights open the season at home Oct. 4 against Philadelphia.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Thursday, June 21
Golden Edge: Knights Take Home Four Awards
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond recaps the NHL awards where the Golden Knights won in four of the categories.
George McPhee On Winning General Manager Of The Year
Golden Knights General Manager George Mcphee talks about winning General Manager of the Year and the Golden Knights.
Deryk Engelland On Winning Mark Messier Award
Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland talks about winning the Mark Messier award how much impact a team can have on a community.
Gerard Gallant On Winning Jack Adams Award
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant talks about winning the Jack Adams award at the NHL Awards.
William Karlsson On Winning The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
William Karlsson goes over the Golden Knights season and him winning the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.
Bark-Andre Furry meets Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog
Two of NHL's furriest fans met at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace on Tuesday, June 18, 2018, in Las Vegas. Vegas Golden Knights superfan Bark-Andre Furry and Washington Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog shared a plate of meatballs and spaghetti with help from Logan, "The Girl with the Hat." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, June 19
Golden Knights release 2018 preseason schedule
The Golden Knights will be back on the ice at T-Mobile Arena Sept. 16. The team’s 2018 NHL preseason schedule was announced Monday. Scheduled is a matchup with the L.A. Kings — Sept. 20 at Staples Center and Sept. 28 at T-Mobile. Two games against the Colorado Avalanche — Sept. 18 in Denver and Sept. 24 at T-Mobile. Two games against the San Jose Sharks — Sept. 22 at San Jose and Sept. 30 in Las Vegas. The team also announced it will hold its training camp at City National Arena beginning Sept. 13.
Golden Edge Look Ahead: What The Knights Next Season Will Look Like
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond, Review-Journals sports columnist Ed Graney and Adam Hill go over what to expect from the Golden Knights next season.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Thursday, June 14
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Stick Salute To Fans
The Vegas Golden Knights host a fan fest on Fremont Street to celebrate the teams achievements throughout the 2017-2018 season. Fans were treated to live entertainment, free Golden Knights merchandise and the players came out to see fans.
David Perron talks about becoming a free agent
Vegas Golden Knights winger David Perron talked to the news media a day after their season ended in the Stanley Cup Final. Perron said he wants to stay in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Knights' season ends, but accomplishments stand
Take a video tour through the Golden Knights' accomplishments in their inaugural season.
Golden Knights fans give advice to their team
Golden Knights fans give advice to the team as they head into Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final down 3-1 against the Washington Capitals. (Rochelle Richards/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Knights fans swarm T-Mobile Arena for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final
Vegas Golden Knights fans party at Toshiba Plaza outside T-Mobile Arena before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Washington Capitals on May 30, 2018 in Las Vegas.
Crowd goes crazy moments before puck drop
The crowd at T-Mobile Arena goes crazy moments before the puck drops in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals, Monday, May 28, 2018 in Las Vegas. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights fans swarm T-Mobile Arena before Game 1
Golden Knights fans swarm T-Mobile Arena before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Washington Capitals, Monday, May 28, 2018 in Las Vegas. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ryan Reaves becomes Golden Knights' latest unlikely hero
Ryan Reaves has become the Golden Knights latest unlikely hero. Reaves scored the series-clinching goal in the Western Conference Finals. It was his first goal with the Golden Knights. It came after Reaves sat for Vegas' first nine playoff games. Now he's become a integral part of the team's forecheck. He gets his chance and he goes in there and he played great hockey. It’s not surprising.
Golden Knights’ Fleury tickles Wheeler’s ear during Game 3 scrum
Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury tickled Jets' Blake Wheeler during a scrum in Game 3. The scrum occured behind Vegas’ net with 2:34 left in the second period of the Golden Knights’ 4-2 victory over Winnipeg on Wednesday night Wheeler, whose helmet was off and had his back to the goalie, somehow seemed unfazed. The Golden Knights lead the Western Conference final series 2-1, and host Game 4 on Friday night.
Voices of Golden Knights players welcome visitors at McCarran airport
Four Golden Knights players will start delivering recorded messages this week as part of the “Voices of Vegas” program at McCarran International Airport.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like