Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby flashed a wide grin Thursday when asked about wanting to score against former teammate Marc-Andre Fleury in what could be the final time he faces the future Hall of Fame goaltender.
“Exactly, yeah. You need some bragging rights,” Crosby said.
Before Crosby – or any of his current teammates – get a crack at Fleury, they will be on hand Friday when his current team, the Minnesota Wild, honors him with a pregame ceremony after he reached the major milestone of 1,000 games, just the fourth NHL goalie to hit that mark.
Fleury also recently picked up his 552nd career win, putting him alone in second place all-time in the NHL.
Minnesota coach John Hynes has confirmed that Marc-Andre Fleury will start Friday. He did not play on the Wild’s only trip this season to Pittsburgh, Dec. 18, on what could have been Fleury’s final appearance in an NHL uniform in Pittsburgh.
Fleury was the first overall pick in the 2003 draft by the Penguins and played with his original club through 2016-17. He was selected by Vegas that summer in an expansion draft after being part of three Stanley Cup titles with the Penguins and establishing himself as a loyal, affable prankster and ultra competitive teammate.
Now 39 and in his 20th season, Fleury has not committed to playing beyond this season.
“There’s a lot of memories there,” Crosby said. “Just the passion that he brought to the rink every day. I think he still brings it. … That says a lot about him as a player and a person.”
Another longtime Penguins teammate of the guy they call “Flower” doesn’t think he will be forced into retirement.
“I think he can play a lot longer. He’s so athletic,” Penguins defenseman Kris Letang said. “But it’s one of those things that you know when you’re done and when you’re not. You just want to be happy for the person.
“But if it’s the last time we face him, like Sid said, you want to score a big goal on him. You don’t want to give him a shutout or something.”
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, who guided the team to the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017, recalled the tough situation in the latter year when Fleury and Matt Murray vied for the No. 1 job. In the end, when Murray got healthy during the playoffs, he moved ahead of Fleury.
“There were some difficult decisions that had to be made with respect to that position,” Sullivan said. “Those decisions were never easy. ‘Flower and I had a lot of conversations, as you can imagine, through that process. Some of those conversations were some of the hardest conversations that I have ever had with a player. And those decisions might have been some of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had as a coach, just because we think so highly of Flower, both as a player and also as a person.”
Guerin Also in the News
Minnesota Wild president of hockey operations and general manager Billy Guerin, who won the Cup with the Penguins in 2009 and later was an assistant GM with them, has received a prestigious appointment.
He been named the GM of Team USA for the 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-off that will replace the All-Star Game, and for the 2026 Olympics.
NHL players will return to the Winter Olympics that year.
“When you play with him as a player, you see that he’s a great hockey mind besides being a good player,” said Crosby, who was Guerin’s center for the 2009 Cup run. “He sees the game really well. … I’m sure he’ll do a great job.”
Prospect Goes to Wheeling
Forward Raivis Ansons, who had been skating before Penguins practice as he rehabs from an injury, was assigned to Wheeling of the ECHL.
Ansons, 22, appeared in 10 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season, with two goals and two assists; and in six games with the Wheeling Nailers, with two goals and an assist.