(Sorel-Tracy) Marc-André Fleury had his usual smile despite the showers and the chilly weather. After all, hosting his annual golf tournament is a chance for him to catch up with old friends from his hometown.
But as smiling as he was, Fleury, like Tchang in The Blue Lotus, had a rainbow in his heart. Happy to see his former teammates Jonathan Marchessault, William Carrier and Nicolas Roy lift the Stanley Cup. Sad to have missed this moment that the “Misfits” had so dreamed of, the left outs of the first edition of the Vegas Golden Knights.
“I was happy for the players, for those I played with, for our Quebecers too, Roy, Carrier, Marchessault. It was fun to see Marchessault go, to see how he could count so much. He’s a fierce competitor,” the Minnesota Wild goaltender said Friday morning.
Marchessault, winner of the Conn-Smythe Trophy, particularly impressed Fleury. The goalkeeper “loved” training with the Cap-Rouge winger.
Like Marchessault, Carrier, Reilly Smith, William Karlsson, Shea Theodore and Brayden McNabb, Fleury was an early Golden Knight. He was part of that team that took the NHL by storm in 2017-18, going three wins away from winning the Stanley Cup from birth. Fleury and the Golden Knights returned to the conference finals in 2020, then again in 2021, when Artturi Lehkonen’s St. John’s Day goal deprived them of a seventh game in front of their raucous fans.
Fleury has had his share of good times in four years on the Strip, but the one he really wanted to have comes Saturday, when the Knights parade with the big trophy. This moment, he will live it by proxy, from a distance.
“We still chat from time to time, we see each other after or before games when we play each other,” Fleury said of his former teammates. Over the years, it’s hard to stay close to everyone. On the other hand, it’s disappointing to have missed that moment, to have started with the team, and that two years after I left, they are winning. That’s a shame. »
Fleury is, however, one of the privileged in the NHL, because no active player has more Stanley Cup rings (three) than him.
Next season he will try to add a fourth in what will potentially be his last lap. He has one year left on his contract in Minnesota, and while he says he hasn’t decided on his future yet, “I have an idea, but I’m still going to wait until the end of the season.”
With the retirement of Craig Anderson, he will be the oldest goaltender in the NHL, unless a 63-year-old Andy Moog comes out of retirement, which seems highly unlikely to us. “I don’t know if it’s an honor,” he laughs. But it’s crazy how time flies. Not long ago, I was the youngest, coming to Pittsburgh. It reminds me that it is important to enjoy every moment. »
Fleury’s role is uncertain at this time. His assistant, Filip Gustavsson, emerged in the NHL last season with an average of 2.10 and an efficiency of .931. The Quebecer got more starts (45 against 37) in the season, but in the playoffs, the Swede became Dean Evason’s right-hand man.
It’s this board that intrigues Fleury the most, first because every time he plays, “it’s to win. That’s just what matters.” Then because Roy and Martin Brodeur were his idols. By reaching 552 victories, he would interfere between the two legends.
“I was a big fan of the Canadiens. I liked the competitive aspect [of Roy]. Look at his career, his intensity… He developed the butterfly style, which I started doing when I was 13. »
Fleury has 985 games on the clock, and 544 wins. Barring an injury, he will achieve both goals in the first half of the season. It remains to be seen if the NHL schedule will do as well as in December 2021, when he signed his 500th victory at the Bell Center, against the Canadiens.