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I Can’t Wait For Marc-Andre Fleury To Be Traded

Fleury’s presence is causing a rift in the fanbase.
Photo — Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports

Marc-Andre Fleury is the greatest goaltender in Penguins’ history.  There are those that will contend Tom Barrasso was better, especially considering the laissez-faire attitude taken towards defense during his time in net, but the numbers are simply too great to ignore at this point.  Fleury has 375 wins to Barrasso’s 226.  Fleury has faced just over 6000 more regular season shots than Barrasso.  Fleury’s save percentage is .912 compared to Barrasso’s .895 and Fleury’s Goals Against Average of 2.58 is the lowest in team history among qualified goalies. (P.S. — the minimum threshold to enter the leaderboards for goalies is 75 regular season games played.  Matt Murray has played 62 regular season games.)

Fleury has the playoff cred, too, even with his spell of noted flameouts in 2012 and 2013, with 62 playoff wins (by far more than anyone else in team history) and two Stanley Cup rings, including the 2009 ring that he was an essential component of obtaining.  There’s a better-than-even chance that he’ll be getting a 3rd chance to raise the Cup.  He was a vital part to the first half of this playoff run.

And although it has absolutely nothing to do with on-ice matters, Fleury is probably in the top 3 (if not the absolute top) of nicest people to ever play for the franchise.  Everyone loves his happy-go-lucky nature on the team, fans love his attitude, and he has never once complained about being benched for poor play or now being shunted to the side in favor of Matt Murray.

But what has happened is that his mere presence on the roster has created a riven divide between the fanbase.  There are large swathes of the fanbase, and not just the younger generation that dominate Twitter, that are placing themselves into either Team Fleury or Team Murray.  And a subset of these factions are actually happy when the other goalie struggles, as it will mean that their chosen guy will get another chance.  It reached peak partisanship when Dejan Kovacevic, for reasons unknown, posted after Game 6’s 2-1 loss that there were multiple reasons that Fleury should be re-installed for Thursday’s Game 7.  Chief among them were that they fans would rally behind him and create an electric atmosphere, more than if Murray were in goal.

While this is beyond silly, as the only thing that matters is which goalie gives the better chance to win against a certain opponent, it shows that all of this season has lead to that crescendo.  Marc-Andre Fleury is too distracting for fans.  When you are the greatest goalie in Pens’ history, it’s too much of a temptation to use him as a talisman when ‘momentum needs to be changed’ as I’ve heard on the radio.  Keep in mind, many fans are talking about replacing a goalie that backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup just last year and is technically sound with ice running through his veins in net.  And he put a shutout on the board against the Senators waaaaay back in Game 5.  Such is the fever dream mentality of Penguins fans, at times.

Marc-Andre Fleury is not going to be on the Penguins come opening night in October.  He’s either going to get moved in a trade ahead of the expansion draft or waive his no-movement clause and potentially get drafted by Vegas.  His $5.75M over the next two years is not cost-prohibitive for the level of production he still provides, but the Penguins themselves can’t afford to tie up $9.5M between two goalies on a team that pushes right up to the salary cap each year.  Matt Murray is younger, cheaper, and better at this point.  Add in the fact that Tristan Jarry is ready to be in the NHL, too, and the Penguins are suffering from a good problem to have — too many quality goalies.

The question of ‘where does he get traded to?’ is still rather murky.  Fleury does not have a full no-movement clause, as some think.  Rather, it’s a 18-team list that he can be traded to.  Naturally, we do not know those 18 teams, but it’s a 60-40 proposition who’s on it.  If the Penguins can get Fleury to somehow to agree to waive his no-movement clause, thus enabling him to get drafted by Vegas, that would give them more latitude to make moves so that his new team knows they can expose him in the draft, if necessary.

Calgary seems like an obvious destination, as they currently have no goalies under contract for 2017-18.  He would provide them an upgrade over the Brian Elliot/Chad Johnson tandem of this year.  The Penguins could slide one of their extra 5th round picks to Calgary to get Elliot or Johnson back in a deal so that they can gain negotiating rights to them prior to their Unrestricted Free Agencies starting.  If they can sign one of them to be Murray’s backup, not only do they have an exposable goalie in the Expansion Draft, but they would have a quality backup for Murray next year, too.  The Penguins would also save the difference between Fleury’s $5.75M cap hit and whatever they sign the new backup goalie for, thus freeing up needed cap space.

When Fleury is gone, my hope is that the Penguin fanbase fully coalesces behind Murray.  He doesn’t have the megawatt smile, won’t make the acrobatic saves, and probably won’t be the court jester in the locker room.  But he wins.  That’s all that ultimately matters, right?  Right?

About Kevin Creagh (294 Articles)
Nerd engineer by day, nerd writer at night. Kevin is the co-founder of The Point of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Creating Christ, a sci-fi novel available on Amazon.

20 Comments on I Can’t Wait For Marc-Andre Fleury To Be Traded

  1. Pens1Fan5887 // May 26, 2017 at 9:06 AM //

    I’m tired of seeing everyone putting Fleury down or hating on him, If it wasn’t for Fleury, Pens wouldn’t be going to the Stanley Cup this year!

    • Kevin Creagh // May 26, 2017 at 9:35 AM //

      I’m not sure if you’re talking about me or fans, in general, but this article had nothing but praise for his tenure with the Penguins. But it’s time for him to go this offseason and for the fans to rally behind Murray fully.

  2. He’ll be picked up in the expansion draft and play for Vegas next year. Both Flurey and Murray are solid goaltenders who shouldn’t be on the bench.

  3. Sarah Young // May 26, 2017 at 1:20 PM //

    This is honestly ridiculous. This is like saying, Hey- if we just got rid of chocolate, then we could just agree that we all like vanilla! People have their preferences- removing the one they like just so that we all “agree” on their second choice is not *unity*…just the absence of choice. Murray has done well. He’s by no means underrated or unappreciated. Both he and Fleury have been Stanley Cup winning goaltenders. The difference is, in BOTH of those Cups, Fleury has done the heavy lifting of the regular season, broken records, kept the team in it when they played like crap in front of him repeatedly, and then last year, he lost his spot during the time of glory and reward; when everyone is playing their best and it’s the most fun for the Penguins to be playing. Now, it looks like it will be more of the same. MAF kept them in it…and it looks like his last game as a Penguin will be the complete and utter disgrace that was the 5-1 Sens win. MAF played awful…along with every other Penguin in the lineup that night. Meanwhile, the Penguins come back with an incredible effort and surge forward…in front of Murray, of course…and MAF is as good as done in Pittsburgh. Too bad if that rubs only -some- fans the wrong way: it’s garbage and it’s a shame for Fleury. Heaven knows the Sens, Caps and Jackets were playing hard for THEIR guys in net. He deserves to have the loyalty he’s shown over the years paid back to him. But that won’t happen and that’s the business of hockey. I hope he goes somewhere the team will rally for him and play hard for him. After the trade deadline or expansion draft, Murray will be the Pens’ future. It’s not a matter of fan preference, choice or circumstance. It’s a matter of fact- and the Pens fans will cheer for him next year and forward, along with whoever is left on the Pens’ roster. That’s what fans do. For now, MAF is a Penguin and we are luckier to have him than we the Pittsburgh fans or the players deserve. Choosing the chocolate over the vanilla means appreciating the flavor while you have it, not cursing the vanilla when the chocolate runs out.

    • Well said. It will be sad to see Fleury play against us for a different team. I truly hope that when he retires, he signs one of those day-long contracts that let him retire as a Penguin. We all love him, but Murray is just more practical at this point 🙁

  4. marlene // May 26, 2017 at 8:28 PM //

    fleury is a great goal tender. there is no reason to trade him. people need to quit talking shit about fleury. I hope Mario keeps him on the team.

  5. I love Fleury. These Playoffs shows he can still play with the best of them (any even shut them out). I’ll be sad to see him go, if he does. For the Cup, I am glad he’s there, as having two of the best GoalTenders in the NHL can have the ability to mix up the Nashville offense.

    But the author is right to this extent: We cannot afford to have 2 world-class Goalies on the same team (while also have the two best Centers in the league in Crosby and Malkin) going into next season. It doesn’t make financial sense. I am sure that Fluery, if he is to be traded, will sign one of those deals that allow him to retire as a Pen.

    It comes down to this, MAF has played his best seasons. He had two cups (and is about to have three, regardless of which goalie starts), but Murray is just getting started. He could easily have 10-15 years of premium Goaltendting left in him, and he did start when we won the Cup last year.

    In my opinion, Fleury is worth AT least a first round pick, and maybe something on top of that. There are very few teams with a better Goalie, even though he is getting past his prime.

    Sullivan will Start Murray and I will root for him. If he plays bad, and gets replaced by Flowers, I’ll root for him. We have to support our team, and by extension, our Goalie no matter what. All that matters now is beating Nashville.

    I do truly hope that no matter what happens, MAF retires as a Penguin and that the Franchise retires his number.

    IF in some unlikely scenario, we get blown out in Games 1 and 2 (and I pray we don’t) and Flowers comes in, and we win the cup, I’d keep him, as starter, until he is ready to retire. Period. But, that is very unlikely, and I am 100% Penguins, not Murray or Fleury.

    #LetsGoPens

    -Ben

  6. CHRIS MARTIN // May 27, 2017 at 8:09 PM //

    You saw it here first. See how far the Pens go with Fleury on their team . Murray is very good but may be on the I R quite a bit. Who knows how that plays out
    Just my opinion Murray’s reaction is slower due to his size which contributes a lot to be injured often. Let Fleurey play out his 2 years as back up despite the cap hit

    • Kevin Creagh // May 28, 2017 at 6:37 AM //

      Would you be willing to give a key secondary piece, like Schultz, Hornquist so Fleury could be the backup? Would you pass on new contracts to Sheary AND Dumoulin? Those are the kinds of cap choices that a $5.75m cap hit for a backup means.

  7. You are witnessing the dichotomy of professional sports. The Penguins, in true corporate fashion, held onto Fleury through the trade deadline because he is a valuable commodity, from his skills to the intangible benefits of his personality.
    The fans love him because of these things too, but many of them reject the notion of Fleury as trade bait. I reject the corporate approach, and hopefully if he is traded the bulk of the fanboys will let Rutherford and Sullivan have it, and not let up for a while. Ultimate dream scenario – the Fleury chant goes up loud and long at the home opener in the fall, whether he’s there or not.

  8. Only one qualm with your piece. This line: “Dejan Kovacevic, for reasons unknown…”

    It is obvious why Dejan does this. He throws a grenade and then watches just to cause a stir. If the Pens lost…he can say, “I told you MAF should have played!” When they won…there is no comment about it because everyone is pleased with the outcome. But it drives traffic (I know his site is subscription-based, but that article was posted for non-subscribers) and makes him feel superior.

    He did a similar thing years ago when he posted that Mario and Burkle offered to buy the Pirates. He threw the grenade, then went to cover the Olympics. If it happened, hey, it was Dejan that broke the story! If it didn’t (spoiler alert: it didn’t) everyone forgot about it by the time he was back. And it had the added bonus of him trolling the Pirates ownership/management, which he clearly loves.

    He picks his spots to do this sort of thing. Frankly, i think it’s lazy.

  9. Sarah Young // May 30, 2017 at 9:49 AM //

    I have to say, I actually disagree with this. I think Dejan said that about Fleury because he knows that Pittsburgh is an odd, anxious crowd. Take last night’s game, for example- (or, most home games for the Pens, really) -it’s GAME ONE! Of the STANLEY! CUP! FINALS! Holy cow, the crowd seemed to fall into a coma at times! They were wringing their hands and holding their breaths and nearly silent. It takes the jumbo tron, ICEBURGH banging a drum and a whole host of other prompts just to get cheers going on a regular basis. Pittsburgh is NOT a building for “home ice advantage” where “the crowd is behind you, giving you energy” as many in the rest of the league can boast. Say what you will about Ottawa but their crowd was into it! You can bet your money that Nashville will be fired up and keeping the energy up all night in their arena. Pittsburgh fans are devoted, loyal and LOVE their team…but it takes a lot to turn the energy to upbeat in PPG some nights. I think Dejan was suggesting that sentimentality from Fleury might do the trick.

    • Kevin Creagh // May 30, 2017 at 11:11 AM //

      I’d also like to add in the fact that Penguins fans have been accustomed to winning, successful hockey. Perhaps, spoiled by it. For a team/city like Nashville, of course it will be an amazing crowd. It’s their first time in the SC Finals and the city in general is embracing fun hockey for the first time in their team’s history. Add in the built-in party vibe of Nashville and it’s going to be a great crowd.

    • Del Scott // May 30, 2017 at 6:15 PM //

      You seem to forget the atmosphere at Consol last spring, especially in the SCF.

      • Sarah Young // May 30, 2017 at 7:03 PM //

        I don’t! I really don’t- it was WONDERFUL. But it’s been the exception, not the rule. I’ve been to many games- in Pittsburgh, in Ohio, in Philly, in Toronto, in Boston, in California, in Florida and in New York. I always have an absolutely fantastic time at Pittsburgh- the Igloo/Consol/PPG – win or lose. It’s a great city and we love our hockey…but it’s quieter than any other building I’ve been to; regular OR post season. I don’t know the reasons. It’s just a lot quieter. People look at you funny, roll their eyes or get huffy if you yell too much. They get frustrated with too many noisemakers or too much standing up in front of them or behind them. It’s odd. It seems more formal in Pittsburgh than anywhere else.

      • Sarah Young // May 30, 2017 at 7:04 PM //

        You are probably right, Kevin. We are very spoiled.

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