Fleury keen for shot at Mem Cup

Big, mo­bile de­fence­man says join­ing Pats was at the top of his trade wish list

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - GREG HARDER gharder@post­media.com

A long dis­tance en­dorse­ment hit close to home for the new­est mem­ber of the Regina Pats.

Af­ter learn­ing that Regina had ac­quired him in a block­buster deal with the Koote­nay Ice on Mon­day, de­fence­man Cale Fleury ea­gerly shared the news dur­ing a brief phone con­ver­sa­tion with his brother Haydn, a for­mer WHL star and cur­rent rookie with the NHL’s Carolina Hur­ri­canes.

The el­der sibling con­grat­u­lated Cale on join­ing the host team for the 2018 Me­mo­rial Cup — a priv­i­lege Haydn en­joyed two years ago in his fi­nal ju­nior cam­paign with the Red Deer Rebels. His unique per­spec­tive added some ex­cite­ment to the oc­ca­sion and made him one of the first peo­ple Cale sought out af­ter the deal was com­pleted.

“We have pretty busy sched­ules — they don’t al­ways line up — but I talked to him about it,” said Fleury, who ar­rived in Regina on Tues­day and is slated to make his Pats de­but Wed­nes­day against the Cal­gary Hit­men (7 p.m., Brandt Cen­tre).

“I ac­tu­ally got a phone call from (Pats head coach/GM) John (Pad­dock) while we were talk­ing, so we kind of got cut a lit­tle bit short. He just said: ‘It’s go­ing to be awe­some play­ing in Regina, es­pe­cially with the Me­mo­rial Cup.’”

Big brother will get no ar­gu­ment from Cale, who missed the play­offs in each of the past two sea­sons with Koote­nay. Al­though he had mixed emo­tions about leav­ing the only WHL home he’s known, Fleury ad­mit­ted that Regina was one of the teams at the top of his wish list.

“I couldn’t re­ally ask for any­thing more,” said Fleury, who knew there was a good chance he would be dealt by the re­build­ing Ice.

“Even at the end of last year when Jeff Chynoweth was our GM, he told me his plan was to trade me at the dead­line this year.

“Ob­vi­ously with hav­ing new own­er­ship and a new GM, I wasn’t too sure (what would hap­pen). But I un­der­stand the sit­u­a­tion they’re in and kind of ex­pected it to hap­pen at some point.”

The Pats spent about a year chas­ing Fleury, who was se­lected by the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens in the third round of the 2017 NHL draft.

In order to land him, the Pats agreed to a sub­stan­tial pack­age that in­cluded two play­ers (vet­eran de­fence­man Jonathan Smart and promis­ing rookie for­ward Cole Muir) along with two ban­tam draft picks (sec­ond- and sixth-round in 2018). Regina also gives up a sec­ond-round se­lec­tion in 2019 or 2020, should Fleury re­turn for his 20-year-old sea­son in­stead of turn­ing pro.

“It’s a con­fi­dence booster to me with how much they re­ally wanted me,” said Fleury, 19.

“I’ve heard they’ve been try­ing to trade for me for a while now and they gave up a good amount of peo­ple and picks. It makes me feel good that I’m go­ing to a team that re­ally wants me.”

Much like his brother, who was drafted sev­enth over­all by Carolina in 2014, Cale has good size and puck-mov­ing abil­ity. The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder is a strong skater and shooter who is very com­fort­able in both ends of the rink.

“I’m just a steady two-way de­fence­man,” said Fleury, who was born in Regina and spent much of his child­hood in Car­lyle be­fore mov­ing to Cal­gary.

“I can be of­fen­sive and I can log good min­utes de­fen­sively, too, and help shut down (top lines) on the back end.

“I try to be good at ev­ery­thing.” The Pats be­lieve Fleury’s al­laround game will com­ple­ment a group of of­fen­sive-minded de­fend­ers. He had 11 goals and 38 points in 70 games last sea­son as the cap­tain and No. 1 rear­guard with the Ice.

As an added bonus, Fleury gives the Pats a right-handed shot for their left-heavy de­fence, al­low­ing Pad­dock to de­ploy more play­ers on their nat­u­ral side.

“We would have been look­ing at him if he was a left-hand shot but, as a right-hand shot, he’s a sig­nif­i­cant piece,” said Pad­dock. “He’s got some phys­i­cal ele­ments to his game. Any team needs a blend of dif­fer­ent types of play­ers in cer­tain po­si­tions. He’s a dif­fer­ent el­e­ment than we have right now.

“Cale is go­ing to be a valu­able player to us.”

He just said: ‘It’s go­ing to be awe­some play­ing in Regina, es­pe­cially with the Me­mo­rial Cup.’

TROY FLEECE

Cale Fleury brings size and puck-mov­ing abil­ity to the Pats de­fence corps. The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder is a strong skater and shooter who is com­fort­able in both ends of the rink.

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