It is unusual that when a player is a Hall of Fame level talent and they are a three time Stanley Cup Champion that they can be so underappreciated but that’s exactly where MAF sits. One of the best goalies to play within the last twenty years and yet he somehow gets overlooked by many fans mainly due to the ending of his tenure in Pittsburgh.
Even though he was Matt Murray’s backup for the last two Cups in Pittsburgh, Fleury played an integral part of those teams. It would’ve been easy for a goalie of his caliber to make a scene and take his ball and go home but he didn’t. He encouraged and helped out in any way that he could and it turned out to really benefit the Penguins especially in their back to back Cup runs.
As most people remember Matt Murray got injured during warmups of game 1 of the Pens first round series against Columbus. Fleury stepped in and played extremely well not only in that series but in round 2 against the Capitals as well. Shutting out Washington in game 7 of that series to get the Penguins back to the Eastern Conference Final. Even though Matt Murray would reclaim the net during the ECF that doesn’t understate just how great Fleury had played during that postseason run. If not for Fleury being the ultimate pro the Penguins would have never won back to back Cups.
Fast forward to the Penguins leaving Fleury unprotected in that summers expansion draft, Fleury would go on to have one of, if not the best, run of his entire career for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
Fleury became not only the face of the franchise but the heart and soul of the franchise just about immediately. After multiple playoff runs and even close calls to getting the franchise their first Cup before hitting five seasons as a franchise, Vegas decided it wasn’t good enough and they wanted an upgrade. At the deadline last season Vegas decided to go out and add Robin Lehner to the group which don’t get me wrong is a stellar addition, but it’s one this team never needed. While Lehner played extremely well last season and helped Vegas get to the Western Conference Final but it did come at the price of controversy. We all know the famous picture tweeted out by Fleury’s agent Allan Walsh claiming that DeBoer had stabbed Fleury in the back.
Due to the cap crunch, Vegas then this offseason decided to try and shop around Marc-Andre Fleury to try and clear his money off the books. Luckily enough for them nobody was willing to take on 7 million dollars and the big winner has been the Knights. With Robin Lehner not only struggling but also being hurt, Fleury has reclaimed his net and has been lights out.
Fleury has made a HOF resume out of being underappreciated and has constantly battled back in the face of adversity and this year has been no different. Throughout everything Fleury has remained a pro’s pro and has never let any of the white noise from the outside affect his game or preparation. Sometimes the best moves in sports are the ones that are never made and Vegas should count their lucky stars that nobody was ever willing to take on money this offseason.