Could this be Future Hall of Famer Marc-Andre Fleury’s Final Season?

Sadly, time might be running out for fans to watch the heroics of future Hockey Hall of Fame goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

Throughout his illustrious 20 seasons which has seen him play for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights, Chicago Blackhawks and currently the Minnesota Wild, the 39-year-old who is known for his trademark grin has put together a first-ballot Hall of Fame resume. Highlights include three-time Stanley Cup winner, participant in the 2011, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2020 All-Star Games, winner of the Vezina Trophy, William M. Jennings Trophy, and being selected for the second All-Star Team both in 2021.

Fleury, who made his mark with the QMJHL’s (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) Cape Breton Screaming Eagles before being drafted first overall in 2003 by the Penguins, recently wrote another thrilling historical chapter this season to his illustrious career.

The magical event occurred on January 15, 2024, at Xcel Energy Center. Fans got to witness hockey history when they saw first-hand Fleury stop all 21 shots, leading the hometown Minnesota Wild to a 5-0 win against the New York Islanders which in turn gave Fleury 552 career wins and moved him past Patrick Roy and into second place on the NHL’s all-time list for wins among goalies. Holding top spot is Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur who during his standout career with the New Jersey Devils and St. Louis Blues ended his career with 691 wins.

“I’ll need 15 more years,” Fleury is quoted by in relation to passing Brodeur. “I think it’s good. It’s good to have goals. I think for me the last couple years, right, I’ve been playing for a while but it’s something I always wanted to win the next game, but personally trying to get some games played, some wins, right? I think it’s fun to catch up to some of these guys and I always loved goalies growing up, so I have so much respect for guys that played before me and it’s an honor not just for Patrick but for the other guys I was able to catch up with.”

Playing this season in the second year of a two-year $7 million contract signed on July 8, 2022, with Minnesota, Fleury also made history when back on December 31, 2023, at Xcel Energy Center, the man they call “Flower” reached a prestigious milestone by becoming only the fourth goalie to play in 1,000 or more games. Unfortunately, this special night, which saw Fleury making 39 saves, ended with the Wild losing by a 3-2 score against the Winnipeg Jets.

“Obviously very flattered by the reception from the crowd, from my teammates. It means a lot,” Fleury said.

Fleury made a name for himself in Steel Town where he played 13 seasons with the Penguins and backstopped them to Stanley Cups in 2009, 2016 and again in 2017. Months after being drafted, Fleury made hockey history when on October 10, 2003, he became the youngest goaltender at 18 years of age to debut in the NHL. Unfortunately, Fleury didn’t get the win but his potential was on full display as he stopped 46 shots in a 3-0 loss against the Los Angeles Kings. Eight days later, Fleury would celebrate his first NHL win which came against the Detroit Red Wings. On October 30th, he earned his first shutout courtesy of a 1-0 win against another Original Six team, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Despite the impressive start, it wouldn’t be until the 2005-06 season when “Flower” took control of being the number one goalie. During his 13-year tenure as a Penguin, Fleury was one of the most popular players and is currently the all-time franchise leader in wins with 375 along with G.A.A. at 2.58 and shutouts with 44.

Showing to be absolutely clutch, Fleury’s performance was a major storyline during the 2009 post-season when he went 16-8 with a 2.61 G.A.A., helping the Penguins capture the Stanley Cup. Fleury will always be remembered for making an unbelievable diving save on Detroit Red Wings defenceman Nicklas Lindstrom in the dying moments of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to preserve a 2-1 Penguins Cup-clinching win.

Fast forward to 2016 and Fleury teamed up with Matt Murray to give the Penguins their second Cup in seven years. The following spring, Fleury once again was money as he went 9-6 with two shutouts and a 2.56 G.A.A., leading the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cups.

Unfortunately for Penguins fans, Fleury’s time in Steel Town quickly came to an end as the expansion Vegas Golden Knights selected this three-time Stanley Cup winner in the 2017 summer expansion draft.

Right from the start, Fleury’s play as a Golden Knight was exceptional as he went 29-13-4 with four shutouts for the expansion Golden Knights. Fleury would end up playing four seasons in the dessert where he produced a solid 117-60 record along with 23 shutouts.

Following his fourth year as a Golden Knight, Fleury was traded on July 27, 2021, to the Chicago Blackhawks. He would play 45 games with the Hawks before once again being traded on March 21, 2022, to his current team, the Minnesota Wild. Currently in his second full season with Minnesota, Fleury has this year a 17-13 record along with 2 shutouts.

Regarding his plans for next year, Fleury remarked “Yeah, it’s probably Minnesota or retirement. I wouldn’t want to move and take my three kids out of their environment. They’ve moved enough already. I don’t want to uproot them. My girls have their school, their friends and their sports in Minnesota. And my wife, Veronique, is also happy here.”

Prior to establishing himself as a star NHL goalie Fleury made his mark on the international circuit when playing for Canada he won back-to-back silver medals at the 2003 and 2004 World Junior Championships. Six years later, Fleury added to his international achievements when he helped Canada win Gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Watching Fleury perform every year has been thrilling for hockey fans but unfortunately, Father Time is still undefeated. The Flower might be back next season but at this time nothing is for certain as we head into the final week of the regular season and perhaps this first-ballot Hockey Hall of Fame career.

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