Our friend and resident translator Becky is at it again with a new translation of a Marc-Andre Fleury interview with Radio Canada. This aired a few days ago and Becky was quick to provide a translation, but unfortunately I'm a slacker (or busy, depending on how you look at it) and didn't get to it until today. With that said, many thanks to Becky once again (and always) for her work.
Take the jump to see what Fleury has to say about the Penguins playing without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Alex Kovalev's return to Pittsburgh and how the team improved during the trade deadline.
The original French version is available here.
How would you describe the morale of the team with the prolonged absence of Crosby and Malkin?
Morale is good, even though we have several injured players. The young guys from the Wilkes-Barre Penguins of the AHL have brought a great energy to the team. They want to seize their chance to play in the NHL.
In Pittsburgh, we are, of course, hoping for Sidney’s return between now and the end of the season, but we are aware of the reality. He might not come back this season. On a hockey level, I would really like to gamble on Sidney, but I’m also thinking about the human side, and I want to see him be healthy first, before seeing him back on the ice.
In the case of Malkin, he underwent major surgery on his knee and we will have to go without him this year. It’s hard to accept, but you have to live with injuries.
Do you have the chance to talk with Sidney often, even though he has been on IR since January 6th?
Yes, I see Sidney a lot at the arena in Pittsburgh. He comes around every day. I talk to him about all kinds of subjects, but I never want to talk to him about his head. My objective is pretty simple, I want to take his mind off things. He sees enough doctors and neurologists, he doesn’t need any questions from me about his concussion.
Sidney tries to stay in a good mood, though it’s not easy. He misses hockey. He had never gone through a situation like this, where he can no longer put on skates and do what he loves most in the world, play hockey. It is also hard for him when we leave Pittsburgh to play games on the road. He can’t jump on the plane with the rest of us.
Since you started playing hockey, have you ever seen a similar scenario with so many injuries to the team?
No, never. It’s pretty crazy. At one point, we had nine forwards out. At morning practice, I sometimes had to look above the locker stall, so I wouldn’t get the name wrong, when I was speaking to a guy called up from Wilkes-Barre.
There were so many injuries that it was getting unreal. We were losing a guy every game. Chris Kunitz, Arron Asham, Eric Tangradi, Mike Comrie, [Nick Johnson], Mark Letustu, and Dustin Jeffrey were also injured. From this long list, only Letestu and Jeffrey have started to play again. On defense, we also lost Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin.
Since the start of the year, 37 players have worn the Penguins jersey. That is a very high number.
With so many injured players, do you have the feeling that you’ve got to carry the team on your shoulders?
At first, I always answered no to this question. But now, I’ve got to say a little bit. My goal is to give the team a chance to win every game. In order to do that, I’ve really got to make more big saves and allow the fewest number of goals possible.
We don’t have the same offensive firepower as before.
Alex Kovalev headed for Pittsburgh February 24th, for a conditional seventh round pick from the Ottawa Senators. Has Kovalev been able to fit in with his new team?
Honestly, I love Kovalev. I am really happy about his arrival and I find him be a very nice guy. He’s adapted quickly to the Penguins. At practice, he is simply astounding. I have rarely seen a guy with such good hands, he’s a magician with the puck.
Kovy has played for Pittsburgh before, and I know that he is happy to be back here. In my opinion, he wasn’t all that sad to leave Ottawa.
In the hope of improving on offense, the Penguins also made an big deal with the Dallas Stars, exchanging defenseman Alex Goligoski for winger James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen. In your eyes, did the Penguins make a good move?
At the time, I was very disappointed at losing Goligoski, one of our very good defensemen. I’d played with Alex for five years, and he was one of my good friends on the team. With experience, I’m learning to deal with the departure of friends. That’s the reality of hockey.
I understand the decision of the Penguins, because we’ve needed reinforcement at wing. In James Neal, we’ve acquired a very good young forward. He is really going to help us.
Now I hope that Neal doesn’t get hurt between now and the end of the season!