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Marc-Andre Fleury and the Mike Bales Effect

With lots of ongoing debate regarding Marc-Andre Fleury and his new contract extension, one has to wonder what kind of effect Mike Bales has had in turning around the career of the 2003 first overall draft pick.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Following the 2012-13 NHL season, when the Penguins dreams of a Cup run came crashing down in 4 quick games at the hands of the Boston Bruins, many expected sweeping changes. We didn't see sweeping changes for another full calendar year.

We did see some immediate small changes. The Penguins hired Jacques Martin. Gilles Meloche also retired....or was fired....or forced to resign....or whatever the heck happened there. Regardless, it's a moot point.

This shift between Meloche stepping down, and the Penguins hiring of goaltender coach Mike Bales, could end up being a very pivotal point for the career of Marc-Andre Fleury.

I vividly remember when Bales was interviewed in an episode of 'In the Room,' he noted how Fleury is a smart guy and a proud player. He didn't want to demand change for the player, but simply to present some new methods, implement them over time, and see how the player responds and how results stack up


You can see here that looking at Fleury's rolling 10-game averages of his save percentage at even strength, under Meloche, he was volatile at best. A 10-game sample at 93% or 95% followed by a 10-game sample of 85% or 87%. In simple terms, it was unreliable, at best. You simply did not know what you were going to get.

Under Bales, Fleury's 10-game samples have trended upwards from the beginning of the 2013-14 season, through last seasons playoffs, where Fleury was far from the magnet where blame should have been placed for the Penguins failures.

There is still plenty of room for improvement, but the best way I can see it in my opinion, is that there is reason to believe that Bales has been a savior for Fleury's game. Time will certainly tell.