The Vegas Golden Knights have given many tributes lately, with former players in Paul Stastny, Nate Schmidt, and Ryan Reaves, along with former head coach Gerard Gallant all recently having returned to T-Mobile Arena with their respective teams. However, the biggest tribute of them all came on Saturday night, when goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made his first appearance since being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks this offseason.
Fleury, 37, was traded to the Blackhawks this summer as a cap dump, as the Golden Knights chose to instead move forward with Robin Lehner between the pipes. While the move made sense from a salary cap situation, it was still very shocking given that the 2020-21 season was the best of Fleury’s career, as he was able to win his first ever Vezina Trophy.
Since being selected by the Golden Knights in the 2017 expansion draft, Fleury immediately became a fan favorite in Vegas and left many positive memories from his four seasons spent with them. Though leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins was hard for Fleury, he embraced being a Golden Knight and is on record stating he wished to end his career there. To no one’s surprise, his tribute on Saturday night had him and every one else in attendance quite emotional.
While Golden Knights fans would have liked to see their team win against the Blackhawks, they got the next best thing as Fleury stole the show with 30 saves in a 2-1 victory. After celebrating with his teammates, he made sure to salute the crowd, and spoke about doing so postgame.
“I just wanted to say thank you to the fans for an amazing four years, and tonight they were awesome,” Fleury told reporters. “I’m glad I got to say thanks.”
In the win, Fleury happened to set a new NHL record as he became the first goaltender to record a win against all 32 teams in the league. Though wins have been hard to come by for his team this season, he himself is having another solid year with a 2.92 goals against average along with a .910 save percentage. Given that the Blackhawks are well outside of a playoff spot and he is set to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, there is a good chance Marc-Andre Fleury is moved ahead of the trade deadline.
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