Minnesota Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will forever hold a place in Pittsburgh Penguins history, and as importantly to him, with Penguins fans.
Monday, Fleury will dress but not start what could be his final game in Pittsburgh. The 39-year-old goalie hasn’t committed to playing beyond this season.
They played most of 12 seasons together.
In 2003, the goalie was the first of four straight top-three draft picks from 2003-2006 and became the first of the core-four players. Fleury was the top pick in 2003. Malkin was the second overall pick in 2004, Crosby the first overall in 2005 and Letang was a third-rounder in 2005.
They were a tight-knit group until the Penguins traded a second-round pick to the expansion Vegas Golden Knights to ensure their selection of Fleury in June 2017.
“Sometimes, it’s a little awkward facing them and stuff,” Fleury said. “Sometimes, I miss them — just to skate with them and dinners and the time on the plane.”
The boys have some gray hair now; the end of their careers is much closer than the beginning, and it might be Fleury’s last game in Pittsburgh.
Fleury admitted he pondered briefly the possibility it could be his last game but wanted to stay in the moment and enjoy the moment — and the welcome he’s likely to receive.
“It just feels like time flies so quickly. You know, my time (in Pittsburgh), my career, it’s 20 years, and it feels like — It’s gone by so fast,” said Fleury. It’s insane. I was here. It means I’m very lucky to do something I love. And time goes by quickly … But I’ve kept positive memories from my time here.”
Fleury is four games away from the 1000-game milestone and three wins away from tying Patrick Roy for second all-time on the NHL wins list.
Time does fly.