With the Penguins being eliminated and pretty quiet this weekend, one of their former players had an eventful weekend off the ice.
Marc-Andre Fleury’s agent Allan Walsh popped on on Saturday afternoon on twitter posting a pretty clear message, down to coach Peter Doboer’s name on the sword sticking through the goalie.
Fleury has only started two of the Golden Knights’ nine playoff games, one in the round robin round and then just one in the first round. And even that was only likely due to a back-to-back situation. Fleury has been passed up again and his agent at least isn’t going to stand for it.
Greg Wyshynski had a great take and perspective on the events:
I think Fleury comes to the bubble believing it's his crease and Lehner was the insurance policy. I don't think that's promised to him, but I think it's been communicated to him. Then they give Lehner six out of eight starts. /2— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) August 23, 2020
There's analytic justification that Lehner should be the guy, no doubt. But I can sympathize with Flower. They gave him that contract. They said they made a trade to upgrade Subban, not to bench Fleury. The way this played out -- in the bubble, no less -- has to be crushing. /fin— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) August 23, 2020
Fleury had to talk about it on Sunday, and the tweet was finally removed.
“I just wanted to say that Allan’s been my agent for a long time,” Fleury said. “We’re always very close. I think he’s a guy that always protects, cares about his players and does about me, also.”
The contract aspect angle Wysh talked about makes this interesting. Vegas invested a lot in Fleury, he got a three-year contract extension from 2019-21 which still has two more seasons left on it. And it carries a princely $7.0 million cap hit. Fleury turns 36 in November, which is before next season will start.
It’s a weird position for the agent, goalie and organization to be in. They’re winning games, and doing it behind Robin Lehner. Lehner himself is an impending free agent. And they turned to Lehner because he’s been a better option — Fleury had a .905 save% this season, and it was just a .891 save% in his last 25 regular season starts, undoubtedly a reason why Vegas sought to bring in an accomplished backup like Vokoun.
It’s interesting that Walsh lashed out now. Fleury has been benched before, in 2013 for Tomas Vokoun, in 2016 Matt Murray took over while Fleury was hurt and never looked back and then again in 2017 Murray jumped into the crease for MAF, and the agent was at least quiet on social media. So why now?
And for the organization, Lehner is a free agent. He’s also hasn’t signed a multi-year contract since 2014 and battled addictions and been public in a brave mental health fight. Is that a guy they’re going to rally behind? His play on the ice makes a strong case for it.
As for now, the Knights chug ahead. With Fleury as a distraction, at least to the outward world. MAF said the right things now, but his agent’s post stayed up for almost a full day. Message sent, and received. Everyone knows Fleury as a graceful teammate but his agent put him in a bad spot here.
The cherry on top is to tie this all to the Penguins’ unsettled goalie situation, with Murray’s status uncertain. But it seems almost impossible and unrealistic for Pittsburgh to take a 36-year old fading goalie with a $7 million cap hit. The cap situation is a big enough problem as it is.
But if Vegas takes an extreme step to buyout Fleury — or, maybe, dare to dream — an interest in Jack Johnson, I guess “never say never” fits the bill.
For hockey, this is a huge irony is that the Pens sent Vegas a 2020 second round pick way back in 2017 in the expansion draft, to have piece of mind for Fleury and themselves that the Golden Knights would go ahead and take MAF in the expansion draft. That pick still hasn’t happened. It might happen after Fleury’s stint in Vegas ends.
Hell, it might happen after Murray’s stint in Pittsburgh ends! Sometimes, you just never know.
It seems crazy to think Marc-Andre Fleury, after his grand farewell, would be an option for the Pens again. Then again, it’s crazy that his agent just put Fleury’s coach’s name on a bloody sword, so who the hell knows any more?
The only thing certain is that it could get more interesting as events unfold.
How would you feel when it comes to Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins and even the chance of a reunion in Pittsburgh:
This poll is closed
No way, no how. Don’t want it to happen and/or won’t happen anyways
I’d like it to happen but I don’t think it would be possible
Only if Vegas bought him out and it was cheap FA signing
Only if the Pens could unload Jack Johnson or Vegas retained heavy salary in a trade
I hope they bring Fleury back, regardless of the cost (full contract, trade, whatever)!