The Vegas Golden Knights have had quite an eventful week in terms of welcoming back former members of their organization. Thanks to the NHL’s interdivisional schedule due to COVID-19 last season the Golden Knights have had their schedule aligned in a manner that has allowed four former members of the organization to return this week so far.
Paul Stastny, Nate Schmidt, Ryan Reaves, and Gerard Gallant have all returned to the Golden Knights this week. But the biggest name of them all will make his glorious return to T-Mobile Arena Saturday night. The Chicago Blackhawks, led by goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will take on the Golden Knights Saturday night at 7:00 pm.
“I think those other ones (Stastny, Schmidt, Reaves, and Gallant) are definitely special for sure. But you know with Flower (Marc-Andre Fleury) coming in, he was the biggest part of this team for a long time. It’s going to be a special game,” said Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore who played with Fleury for four seasons.
Marc-Andre Fleury was the biggest name selected by the Vegas Golden Knights at the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. Coming over from the Pittsburgh Penguins, Fleury had quite a resume with three Stanley Cups and 13 years of NHL experience under his belt before he even played a game in Las Vegas.
Former general manager George McPhee built around Fleury as the face of the franchise to kickstart the expansion team Golden Knights in year one. What he and many other people did not expect was the miraculous run both Fleury and the Golden Knights made in their inaugural season which took them all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
“I will say the same thing about Flower (Fleury) that I said about Gerard (Gallant) and Revo (Ryan Reaves). What those guys did in year one here I don’t think will ever be replicated. They deserve all the love and attention they are going to get for that as it was just incredible,” said Golden Knights current head coach Peter DeBoer.
“Him (Gerard Gallant) and Flower (Fleury) were probably the hearts of our organization hearts of our organization for quite a bit here at the start,” said original Golden Knight Jonathan Marchessault.
Fleury went on to play three more seasons with the Golden Knights and won a Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender in 2020-21 as well as the Jennings Trophy with Robin Lehner for the fewest goals allowed by a goalie tandem in the NHL. Lehner is confirmed to start tonight against his former teammate in Fleury.
“Obviously, he is a very athletic goalie who makes those big types of saves when you think you got him beat. You really got to bear down to bury on your chances. It’ll be fun to play him. I haven’t played him in a while but I have had my fair share of runnings with him when he was in Pittsburgh and I was in Ottawa,” said Golden Knights captain Mark Stone.
Fleury was traded in the summer of 2021 to the Chicago Blackhawks for one Mikael Hakkarainen who’s name basically translates to “cap space.” Nonetheless, Fleury has no hard feelings about his strange departure from the Golden Knights organization.
“I think it’s behind me, you know? I’ll always be grateful for my time here with this organization, but I’m fortunate the Blackhawks wanted me to play for them and continue to do what I love, play hockey. I’m grateful for that,” said Fleury.
One thing that will never be behind for Fleury is his tendency to prank his former teammates such as Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, and Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh. With this being the first time Fleury has entered T-Mobile Arena as a visitor, expect a potential Fleury prank before puck drop tonight.
Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore still has some suspicions on some of Fleury’s pranks in the past.
“I still have a couple of suspicions, but I guess I will just leave it at that,” said Theodore.
“He is a real happy and go lucky guy and obviously he meant a lot to this organization and a lot to the city. So I’m sure he will get a nice recognition from the fans and the organization as he deserves it,” said Stone.
When he inevitably retires, Fleury is a sure-fire Hockey Hall of Famer. The 37-year old goaltender has three Stanley Cups, a Jennings Trophy, a Vezina Trophy, is the all-time win leader for two NHL franchises, and is third all-time in goaltender wins in NHL history with 501.
“I think any time you coach a Hall of Famer or get an opportunity to coach a Hall of Famer it’s always an honor. I say the same thing about having to coach Marty Brodeur and Jaromir Jagr or Joe Thornton. As a coach those are the players that you will tell your grandkids about, that you had an opportunity to coach them and Flower is on that list,” said DeBoer.
Stay tuned with Vegas Hockey Now for plenty of more content on the return of Marc-Andre Fleury. The Golden Knights take on the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at T-Mobile Arena starting at 7:00 pm.