Pens camp ‘odd’ mi­nus Fleury

Goalie was se­lected by Las Ve­gas in ex­pan­sion draft.

The Citizens' Voice - - WILDLIFE - BY SAM WERNER PITTS­BURGH POST-GAZETTE

CRAN­BERRY TOWN­SHIP — For as much as the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins’ first day of train­ing camp Fri­day felt like a re­union of the group that won the Stan­ley Cup just three months ago, there were some no­table dif­fer­ences.

Per­haps none more so than the fact that the locker room in Cran­berry no longer had a “#29 — FLEURY” plac­ard af­fixed above one of the stalls.

Goalie Marc-An­dre Fleury, se­lected by Las Ve­gas in this sum­mer’s ex­pan­sion draft, was one of sev­eral play­ers the Pen­guins had to part with this off­sea­son, and his ab­sence was felt as the team re­con­vened morn­ing at UPMC Lemieux Sports Com- plex.

“It’s def­i­nitely a lit­tle odd walk­ing in here, and you don’t see that happy face ev­ery time in the locker room,” de­fense­man Olli Maatta said. “It’s part of the game. There’s noth­ing you can do about it.”

Cap­tain Sid­ney Crosby said Fleury’s ab­sence started creep­ing up on him as train­ing camp ap­proached.

“The skates lead­ing up and things like that, it’s weird not hav­ing him around,” Crosby said. “But I think once you’re in the mix, you prob­a­bly don’t think about it as much.

“It was a lit­tle weird here com­ing into camp, not see­ing him around. But he looks like he’s ad­just­ing to Ve­gas and he’s go­ing to be great for them there.”

Crosby said he has talked to Fleury a few times this sum­mer.

“He sounds like he’s happy and ex­cited for the op­por­tu­nity there,” Crosby said. “As a hockey player, you’ve got to go out there and play. I’m sure that’s his fo­cus, and he’s got a great op­por­tu­nity there.”

Fleury wasn’t the only for­mer Pen­guins player who left Pitts­burgh this sum­mer. Last sea­son, the Pen­guins brought back vir­tu­ally ev­ery key piece from their Stan­ley Cup run a year ear­lier. This time, they didn’t have that lux­ury.

In ad­di­tion to Fleury, Chris Ku­nitz, Nick Bonino, Trevor Da­ley, Matt Cullen and Ron Hain­sey played key roles for the Pen­guins in their Cup run last sea­son but will start this sea­son else­where.

“All those guys, you re­ally miss those guys,” de­fense­man Ian Cole said. “But that be­ing said, you can’t wal­low in self-pity that they’re not here or long af­ter them like a heart­bro­ken lover, if you will. Those guys will cer­tainly be missed, with­out a doubt. I think if you said any­thing else, you’d be ly­ing. It’s some­thing where that’s the name of the game, and that’s the busi­ness that we’re in.”

And while the Pen­guins will miss those play­ers in Pitts­burgh, Cole said it’s im­pos­si­ble not to be happy, per­son­ally, for the sit­u­a­tion each one is walk­ing into on their new team.

“I think, truly, hon­estly, ev­ery­one is re­ally happy for those guys with the deals that they signed,” Cole said. “Bones sign­ing his big deal in Nashville, Flower get­ting an op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue to be the man in Ve­gas. Those are great op­por­tu­ni­ties for those guys. Dales sign­ing an un­be­liev­able three-year deal in Detroit. Those are all sit­u­a­tions that are great for those guys. To kind of step back, yeah, we’ll miss them as a team, but we’re re­ally happy for them per­son­ally.”

And, as Cole said, it’s part of the busi­ness, so the Pen­guins have no choice but to move on.

GENE J. PUSKAR / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Antti Niemi is ex­pected to re­place Marc-An­dre Fleury as Pitts­burgh’s backup goal­tender this sea­son.

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