Respect Fleury In His Penguin Finale

Marc-Andre Fleury has not played up to his standards this season. He has a .907 save percentage, 3.19 GAA, and hasn’t won a start since October 29th against the Flyers. It is also important to note that Fleury was 6-2-1 before Murray came back from injury, and 0-3-2 since the 22 year old phenom returned. These stats do not tell the whole story, as the Penguins sometimes suspect┬ádefense has let him down more than a few times in that span, but the Flower is clearly not in full bloom this season. The net is Matt Murray’s for years to come and no one with any hockey sense at all is debating that. However, the blatant disrespect that Fleury is getting from some of the Penguins fanbase is egregious. Marc-Andre Fleury ranks first in every major goaltending category in all-time Penguins history; wins, shutouts, starts, you name it and Fleury is atop the list. He is also a two-time Stanley Cup champion and played major roles in both 2009 and 2016. I am a big believer in statistics and advanced metrics, but MAF is truly one of those few guys that has intangibles that cannot be measured. He is the glue that holds the Penguins together in the locker room. He’s always the first guy to lighten up the mood with a prank or joke, and above all else he is world-class teammate. I don’t know many people that would welcome their eventual replacement with a smile and open arms, but Fleury has done just that since Matt Murray arrived. Fleury willed the Penguins to wins during┬áthe brutal Mike Johnston tenure and was largely the only reason they made the playoffs. He was nothing but supportive in the Cup run even though he had gotten the team to the postseason. He was a pro, he put the team above himself because he loves Pittsburgh and loves being a Penguin more than anything else in the world. So, I hope you can see how badly it irks me when I see casual fans that decided to tune in for the game that night blaming everything on number 29. I’m not saying you can’t criticize him, I am just saying to maybe show a tad of respect when you’re doing so. He’s certainly not been all that sharp this season, but blaming the goalie for every goal against is Yinzer analysis at its finest. (Here is a cheat sheet that is desperately needed for many: Any time the other team scores on a breakaway, odd-man rush, cross-crease pass, screen, or deflection, it probably wasn’t the goalie’s fault.) Matt Murray has played better this season and he is certainly a cornerstone of the Penguins for years to come, but there is no need to choose one or the other. Just cheer both; it’s not a competition. Fleury will be dealt before the NHL’s trade deadline this season and he will play out the rest of his contract in a city not named “Pittsburgh”, so while the man is still here let’s show him a little damn respect, because he sure as hell has earned it.fleury

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