Fleury inks three-year ex­ten­sion with Knights

The Niagara Falls Review - - Sports - W.G. RAMIREZ

LAS VEGAS — It didn’t take long for Marc-An­dre Fleury to fall in love with his new home­town dur­ing his first sea­son in goal with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Now, it looks as though he’ll spend the rest of his ca­reer here.

The Knights agreed to terms Fri­day with the three-time Stan­ley Cup cham­pion on a three­year con­tract ex­ten­sion worth an av­er­age of $7 mil­lion a year.

Fleury had one year re­main­ing on his con­tract. The ex­ten­sion would keep him with Vegas through the 2021-22 sea­son, mean­ing the 33-year-old could end his ca­reer with the Knights.

“This or­ga­ni­za­tion gave me a chance to play, to play a lot of games, they be­lieved in me,” Fleury said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence to an­nounce the deal. “The suc­cess that we had over the sea­son, win­ning al­ways makes every­thing bet­ter. And then the fans, how much they sup­ported us right from day one. They were crazy all sea­son long and the play­offs were a lot of fun to play. We could re­ally feel the in­ten­sity in the build­ing from the fans.”

The Golden Knights se­lected Fleury in the 2017 ex­pan­sion draft from the Pen­guins. He won 29 games last sea­son, in­clud­ing the 400th vic­tory of his ca­reer. He reg­is­tered the best sta­tis­ti­cal reg­u­lar sea­son of his ca­reer with a goals-against av­er­age of 2.24 and a save per­cent­age of .927. He has 404 ca­reer wins in 737 games be­tween Pitts­burgh (691 games) and Vegas (46) and ranks 11th in vic­to­ries in NHL his­tory.

Fleury helped the Golden Knights to the Pa­cific Di­vi­sion ti­tle and an ap­pear­ance in the 2018 Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal in their in­au­gu­ral sea­son. He ap­peared in all 20 games for the Golden Knights in the play­offs, where Vegas’ sto­ry­book sea­son ended with a loss to the Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals in the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal.

The three-time All-Star said get­ting the ex­ten­sion out of the way now elim­i­nated dis­trac­tions he’s ex­pe­ri­enced in the past.

“It’s al­ways some­thing I wanted and like to do, so when the sea­son starts you’re not think­ing about the ru­mours, where you can be traded to, I’ve been through that al­ready. Just to have that se­cu­rity to be here for a long time was big for me.”

Just as he did at the time of the ex­pan­sion draft, gen­eral man­ager Ge­orge McPhee said he took the ad­vice of goal­tender coach Dave Prior to lock up Fleury.

“When we made the ex­pan­sion draft play for Marc-An­dre, our staff and Dave Prior be­lieved that we could get him play­ing as well as he’s ever played and even bet­ter, and that’s ex­actly what hap­pened,” McPhee said. “Dave went to work with Marc-An­dre and Marc-An­dre was open-minded and worked with Dave and had a ter­rific sea­son.

“At Dave’s ad­vice we thought a three-year ex­ten­sion was the ap­pro­pri­ate ex­ten­sion in terms of time. Marc-An­dre is a very ath­letic, very quick, very ag­ile goal­tender. Not one of the big, lum­ber­ing hit me goal­tenders, and we could get four very good years from Marc. The deal was there to be done, so we thought it was the right time to do it.”

JOHN LOCHER THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Marc-An­dre Fleury would like to fin­ish his ca­reer in Las Vegas.

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