Marc-Andre Fleury is on the move again. Well, maybe. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner has been traded from the Vegas Golden Knights to the Chicago Blackhawks. In return, the Hawks are sending the contract of Mikael Hakkarainen, a minor league forward, to Vegas. However, Hakkarainen will remain with the Blackhawks.
Fleury’s agent, Allan Walsh, announced that the premier goaltender himself had not yet been notified of the trade.
“While Marc-Andre Fleury still hasn’t heard from anybody with the Vegas Golden Knights, he has apparently been traded to Chicago. Marc-Andre will be taking time to discuss his situation with his family and seriously evaluate his hockey future at this time.”Allan Walsh, agent for Marc-Andre Fleury
When the Knights’ season ended in June, Fleury said that he hoped to stay in Vegas. “I haven’t given much thought to the future, but it’s always been in my heart to stick around and finish up here,” Fleury remarked. He has reportedly told sources that there was a chance that he may retire if he was traded from Vegas. He and his family moved to Vegas from Pittsburgh four years ago, after Fleury was drafted by Vegas in the expansion draft.
Vegas Reasoning for Trading Marc-Andre Fleury
This trade exists for the distinct reason to alleviate the $12 million salary cap problem Vegas has had with its goaltenders. Ironically, the Golden Knights inked a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks 18-months ago for fellow starting goalie Robin Lehner. The salary cap hit for Lehner and Fleury combined was never one that was a doable ,long-term option for the Knights. The writing was on the wall for Fleury when Lehner agreed to a five-year, $25 million contract extension with the franchise last October. It was clear at that time that Fleury’s time in Vegas was numbered. However, there had been debate over the situation.
Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon remarked earlier today:
“With respect to this morning, rumors hit Twitter before I spoke to Marc-Andre Fleury. We had not in fact completed the trade call. …There was many discussions throughout the time leading up until the day. …I think communication throughout this process was very good. I told Marc at the exit meeting that I want to look him in the eye and tell him myself and make him understand and be aware that he’s been treated professionally throughout this timeframe.”Kelly McCrimmon, Vegas Golden Knights GM
Marc-Andre Fleury Coming Off Best Season
Marc-Andre Fleury posted his best year between the pipes for the 2020-2021 season. He racked up a .928 save percentage and a 1.98 goal-against average. His record was 26-10-0, posting six shutouts in 36 games. In addition to personally winning the Vezina Trophy, Fleury combined with Lehner to win the Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals in the NHL this season.
Fleury was the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NHL Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The future Hall of Famer has won the Stanley Cup three times with the Penguins (2009, 2016, 2017). Fleury was drafted by Vegas in their Expansion Draft in 2017. He led the Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season. Marc-Andre Fleury has been the face of the franchise since its inception.
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said of his new netminder:
“The opportunity to acquire a Vezina-winning goaltender is rare and one you cannot pass up. Marc-Andre improves our goaltending, strengthens our team defense and will have a huge impact on the overall development of the Blackhawks. Having a goaltender like this on our team will put the talent we currently have on our roster in a better position to achieve sustained success. The entire organization is thrilled to have this future Hall of Famer on our team and his reputation of being an excellent teammate on and off the ice precedes him.”Stan Bowman, Chicago Blackhawks GM
My Soapbox, For What It’s Worth
We all will now be waiting to see what it is that Marc-Andre Fleury decides is the best future for himself and his family. To me, the way that the Golden Knights have treated Fleury the last few years in regards to the addition, of and ultimate contract extension, of Robin Lehner has been anything but respectful. However, I felt the same way with how the Penguins treated him after back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships, when they chose to protect Matt Murray rather than Marc-Andre Fleury in the expansion draft for the Vegas Golden Knights. Then again, I’m a bit old-school when it comes to some things. Hard work. Loyalty, both personally, to the community, and to the team. Making the best of situations that you don’t necessarily want to be in. That’s life.
I don’t understand why players are moved around so much these days. They move from team to team, to follow the money, the best contract. GMs move them, to make room for cheaper or younger players. I suppose I’m dating myself, but I’m from an age that staying with a team your entire career was just something that was usually done. Fans were fans of teams, not needing to follow individual players around from team to team.
“I’d like to thank Marc-Andre Fleury for his time in Vegas. Incredible moments we shared with him in the organization. He was the most popular player I’ve ever seen in sports. He was the face of the franchise. The passion that he has for the game as a teammate and a player connected to the fanbase. I want to recognize his great accomplishments, his time here. He’s had a tremendous impact on our city. So I know for a lot of people this is a day filled with sadness. Certainly I share all those same emotions as you do, and I feel that I’m responsible to do everything I can to put the best team on the ice.”Kelly McCrimmon, Vegas Golden Knights GM
Tribute to His Father
Marc-Andre Fleury honored his father, who passed away last November, by adding a quote to his goalie mask. His father said this to him every day when he played hockey. On his mask, the saying is in French, Fleury’s native language, from French Canada. The English translation is:
“Keep your eye on it. You practice as you play. Have fun.–Pa”
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