Marc-André Fleury gained a second wind to his career with the Golden Knights, and he couldn’t help but reflect emotionally during his return to Vegas on Sunday.
Fleury spent four seasons with the organization, backstopping the team to the Stanley Cup Final during their inaugural season, where they fell just short in six games to the Washington Capitals — becoming a beloved fan favourite in the process. He was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in July and briefly mulled his future in the sport, before deciding to report to his new club.
The now-37-year-old goaltender was left exposed ahead of the 2017 Expansion Draft after spending his entire career with the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he was selected first overall in 2003, and helped the team win three Stanley Cups.
Vegas is a special place for Fleury, and he grew emotional during a video tribute dedicated to him on Saturday, shortly before the game began.
“I’m very lucky and fortunate to still play hockey,” Fleury said via The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus. “To do what I love and to have the respect of my teammates and fans, people in the community. That means a lot to me. It’s something I want when I leave the game, to not just be known as a hockey player. That’s why it’s something emotional for me to have those nights.”
It was somewhat surprising for the Golden Knights to move Fleury last summer, considering he won the Vezina Trophy that season and is still very much at the top of his game even as he enters his late 30s. It is a business, however, and Fleury’s more than aware of this bleak reality, holding no grudges.
“I just wanted to say thank you to the fans,” Fleury said via The Athletic’s Jesse Granger. “It was an amazing four years, and again tonight they were awesome. I’m glad I got to say thanks.”
There’s no better revenge than victory anyways and Fleury made 30 saves in a 2-1 win for the Blackhawks.
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