Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has committed to playing for the Chicago Blackhawks this season, setting aside his reservations about leaving Vegas.
A person with direct knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press on Sunday that last season’s Vezina Trophy winner informed the Blackhawks of his decision after spending the past week contemplating his future. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because Fleury has not announced his decision.
Fleury spent the past four seasons as the face of the Vegas Golden Knights, and was shaken by the team’s decision to trade him to Chicago on Tuesday.
The Blackhawks on Sunday posted an image of a flower — Fleury’s nickname — on their Twitter account.
The 36-year-old, who won three Stanley Cups during his first 13 NHL seasons in Pittsburgh, considered Las Vegas his home and place where he wanted to end his career, and had reservations about relocating his family once again. Fleury had also developed a bond with Golden Knights fans and team owner Bill Foley after being Vegas’ most high-profile selection in the 2018 expansion draft.
The Golden Knights traded Fleury to free up much-needed salary cap space, with the goalie counting $7 million against the cap in the final season of his contract. Vegas also has a starter in waiting in Robin Lehner, who split duties with Fleury last season and has four years remaining on his contract.
The Blackhawks have been rebuilding and acquiring Fleury puts them in win-now mode.
“The opportunity to acquire a Vezina-winning goaltender is rare and one you cannot pass up,” Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said last week. “Marc-Andre improves our goaltending, strengthens our team defense and will have a huge impact on the overall development of the Blackhawks. Having a goaltender like this on our team will put the talent we currently have on our roster in a better position to achieve sustained success.”
Fleury went 26-10-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average and .928 save percentage last season and was voted the Vezina winner by GMs. He started 16 of the Golden Knights’ 19 playoff games over Lehner, who finished the postseason as the starter after a gaffe by Fleury late in Game 3 of the semifinals against Montreal altered the series and led coach Peter DeBoer to switch back and forth. Vegas was eliminated in six games.
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